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dissolution of the Finnish army by Bobrikoff, Fin-



SECOND PERIOD OF RUSSIANIZATION 313

land has, by decision of the Diet, paid an annual
contribution to the Russian Treasury in lieu of mili-
tary service. The Duma decided in January, 1912,
that this arrangement should be made permanent.
To make this contribution illegal it has not been pro-
posed to the Diet, which would have accepted it.
Far more important, however, in its effect upon Fin-
land has been the other Duma law, which extended
to all Russians resident in Finland full citizen rights.
This also was never put before the Diet as a Bill, lest
it be legalized ; the Diet would have asked no better
than accept it.

These two measures were laid before the Finnish
Diet in the form of proposals about which it was to
be allowed to express its opinion. The Diet refused
to do so, on the ground that the whole procedure of
the Russian authorities was a violation of the Fin-
nish Constitution, according to which the Diet had
the right not merely to give an opinion upon such
questions, but to decide them. The Diet expressed
its willingness, however, to meet Russian wishes in
every possible way, only provided that these were
brought to its notice in the manner prescribed by
the Constitution. To have acted otherwise would
have been to surrender Finland's entire right to
constitutional government.

Finding that the Diet would not play into their
hands, the Russian authorities returned the two
measures to the Duma, which, in the committee
stage, made important additions to them. The
rights of Finnish citizenship were extended from
the civil population to the Russian military in Fin-
land, and the clause which prescribed that all Fin-



314 FINLAND AND THE FINNS

nish officials who resisted the execution of the Duma
measures should be tried before a Russian court
was widened so as to embrace not only the official
but also the non-official world. This clause has
caused more trouble than anything else of recent
years in Finland, and has led to the astounding
spectacle of the arrest and trial before a local court
in Russia of one of Finland's three Supreme Courts
of Appeal. And as the incident which led to this
crisis is a trifling one, it is extremely important to
remember that the Finnish objection to the Duma
laws does not depend on the actual contents of those
laws. Apart from the monstrous clause providing
for the trial of Finns in Russia, the Diet would have
little objection to passing similar measures, though
that concerning Russian residents would re-
quire considerable modification in matters of detail.
The real dispute is not over the rights of Russians
in Finland, but over the right of the Duma to legis-
late for Finland. The conflict is as much one of
principle as was John Hampdeii's refusal to pay
ship-money. It arose in the following manner: A
Russian wished to set up a store in Viborg. Accord-
ing to Finnish law, he had to apply for permission
to the Governor of the province, but according to
the newly made Duma law he must go to the town
council. He went to the latter, which promptly re-
ferred him to the Governor, thus putting on record
its refusal to recognize the Russian-made law. The
Russian authorities then arrested three members
of the town council, who were subsequently tried
and imprisoned in Petersburg, under a clause of the
Duma law. The Supreme Court of Viborg protested



SECOND PERIOD OF RUSSIANIZATION 315

against the arrest of the three magistrates, as being
a breach of Finnish law, and ordered their release.
This was refused, and steps were now taken against
the Supreme Court. Twenty-four of its members
were arrested in December, 1912, were tried next
month by the Petersburg District Court, and (all
except one) were sentenced to sixteen months' im-
prisonment and loss of office for resisting the Duma
law. It must be difficult to find a parallel to such a
situation as this, in which a Supreme Court in one
country is forcibly removed to another country and
there tried and condemned by a local court for hav-
ing obeyed the very laws which it was bound by the
most solemn oath to maintain.

The Viborg judges, many of whom are elderly
men, have suffered acutely under the Russian
prison regime, and their sufferings were in-
creased by the knowledge that on their release
their occupation would be gone and their places
filled by Old Fennoman nominees of the Russian
Government, under whom the Court cannot but
degenerate.

The whole affair is typical of Russia's work of
destruction in Finland. Everywhere honest and
capable officials are being ousted and replaced by
persons of an altogether lower type.

The province of Viborg has all along borne the
brunt of the Russian attack. Bobrikoff, in his report
upon his work from 1899 to 1902, proposed its re-
union with Russia, and added significantly: "The
reincorporation of the province of Viborg ought to
be regarded only as the first step towards a final
inclusion of Finland in the Russian State." Of



316 FINLAND AND THE FINNS

recent years the Russian Government has more than
once contemplated carrying out this plan, but noth-
ing has as yet come of it, owing as far as one can
judge, to the opposition it provoked abroad. But
that the idea is not abandoned is clear from the
decision to incorporate with Russia two parishes,
Nykyrka and Kivinebb, which lie on the frontier.
These parishes, which number about 30,000 inhabit-
ants, are to be annexed on the pretext that Russia
requires them for military purposes, and there can
be little doubt that their seizure is intended only to
be the prelude to the reincorporation of the entire
province.

Among other striking features of the work of rus-
sianization have been the frequent dissolutions of
the Diet for protesting against the unconstitutional
regime; the russianization of the pilot service; the
disbanding of the boy and girl scouts, who were
regarded as a menace to the Empire ; and the appro-
priation of Finnish State funds for Russian pur-
poses and to feather the nests of Russian officials.
The list could be extended ad nauseam, but enough
has been said to show the general trend of Russian
policy. It is, indeed, the programme of Bobrikoff
over again, without its dramatic elements. The Rus-
sian authorities have come to the conclusion that
less resistance will be provoked if they go to work
quietly.

Such a wholesale destruction of a nation's rights
rights, be it noted, which are not merely abstract
rights of humanity but the concrete historical rights
of Finland, definitely established by law cannot
possibly be justified on any other hypothesis except



SECOND PERIOD OF RUSSIANIZATION 317

that they seriously impair the safety or efficiency of
the Russian Empire. If Finland is merely being
sacrificed to the temporary convenience of Russian
politicians, who desire either to distract attention
from home misgovernment or to win the support of
the least educated and most chauvinistic people in
Russia, or again, because it is thought to be danger-
ous to the Russian Government to have a flourishing
democracy so close to the Russian capital, or because
it is a way of finding lucrative positions for hungry
Russian officials, all that can be said is that such a
sacrifice is not merely unjustifiable but abominable.
It is a dim perception of this fact that has caused
the Fennophobes in Russia to raise the cry of Fin-
nish disloyalty. Finland, it is argued, is disloyal,
and Russia cannot afford to have a disloyal State so
near her capital. Hence Finland must be russian-
ized. Now, if Finland were really disloyal there
would be much to be said for this argument. But
Finnish disloyalty is a pure myth, and a myth whose
origin will not bear examination, as any one ac-
quainted with the activities of the Russian Secret
Police in Finland very well knows. It is perfectly
true that in years immediately following the Diet of
Borga there may have been a few sentimentalists
who dreamed of a reunion between Finland and
Sweden, but no one paid any attention to them, and
to talk of a separatist movement in Finland is to
misrepresent history. The bond between Sweden
and her former province rapidly became what it
now is, one of culture and historical tradition, with-
out any political significance whatever. Meanwhile
the bond with Russia grew steadily stronger, for



318 FINLAND AND THE FINNS

various reasons, such as the personal popularity of
the Emperors, who were greatly beloved in Fin-
land, the development of commercial intercourse
between the two countries, the part played by Fin-
land in the Crimean War, and, in a word, the general
effects of the political tie uniting the two countries.
Indeed, one feels that so far from showing disloyalty
the Finns were more inclined to err on the other
side, and in their gratitude to the Russian monarch
to stint their sympathy for those in Eussia who were
striving to obtain the constitutional blessings that
Finland already enjoyed. That Finland is less en-
thusiastically loyal to Eussia to-day than twenty
years ago may readily be admitted, but this must be
attributed simply and solely to the fact that of recent
years Eussia has done everything possible to de-
stroy her loyalty. In view of all that has been done
to irritate the Finns, it says much for their good
sense that they have not been goaded into rebellion,
as many a more excitable nation might have been.
But of rebellion there has never been a question,
and to speak of such a thing is a calumny. If Eus-
sia wants to revive the waning fires of Finnish
loyalty, she has only to return to the policy she pur-
sued for ninety years with such conspicuous suc-
cess. That policy was a surer guarantee of Eussia 's
safety from invasion via Finland than the russian-
ization of Finland can ever be.

Akin to the argument of alleged Finnish dis-
loyalty is another, which runs that, owing to the
danger of invasion via Finland, Eussia must acquire
absolute military control over the Grand Duchy,
which must consequently be russianized. The an-



SECOND PERIOD OF RUSSIANIZATION 319

swer to this is quite simple so simple, indeed, that
it shows the argument to be one of questionable hon-
esty. It is that Russia in virtue of the Constitution
already enjoys absolute military and naval control
over Finland, and that this control could not there-
fore be increased, however much the country were
russianized. Finland has no authority whatever
over the military and naval forces Russia chooses
to station in the Grand Duchy, and would have no
legal right to complain if Russia were to station
the entire forces of the Empire there.

The only other ground on which the destruction of
Finnish rights could possibly be justified is that
these interfere with the efficient administration of
the Empire. No serious attempt to show that this
is so has been made on the side of Russia. It would
indeed be ridiculous to maintain that the Imperial
administration as a whole is interfered with by the
Constitution of a country of 3,000,000 inhabitants,
which is a mere corner of the huge Russian Empire.
The narrower proposition that, in certain details, a
modification of Russo-Finnish relations might prove
necessary, may, however, be freely admitted. But
if a modification of Russo-Finnish relations is de-
sirable, the question arises : How ought any change
determined on to be carried out?

The answer is perfectly clear. As the Conference
of International Lawyers pointed out in March,
1910, " Finland has the right to demand that the
Russian Empire should respect her Constitution,"
and "if the superior interests of the Empire de-
mand the establishment of a common procedure for
dealing with certain internal affairs, it pertains to



320 FINLAND AND THE FINNS

the Diet either itself to determine those affairs or to
consent to the creation of a body charged with deter-
mining them."

In other words, no change can legally be made
without the consent of the Diet. For the overriding
of the Diet's authority and the forcing of her will on
Finland by external pressure, Russia has no justi-
fication whatever, either legal or moral.

Russia's refusal to make use of the simple and
natural way of settling the question the way time
after time pointed out by the Finns her persistence
in pursuing a policy so contrary to her own true
interests in Finland and one which can only end in
turning the fairest spot in the Empire into a discon-
tended and sullen land; her tenacity in the face of
the protests of enlightened public opinion and of
expert legal opinion both in Russia and in West
Europe; her perseverance, in spite of dangers and
complications at home, in a course of action of which
the obvious risks so utterly outweigh the visible
advantages these and similar considerations have
caused people to suspect that there must be some
other motive in Russia's mind, and to find it in a
historical necessity pushing her towards the open
sea. In other words, it is argued that the russian-
ization of Finland is in reality intended to mask an
aggressive movement upon Sweden and Norway.

This theory has been put forward several times
e.g., by Mr. Y. Whitford in the Contemporary Re-
view for August, 1912, by Dr. Sven Hedin in several
articles and pamphlets, and by Herr Konni Zilliacus
in his "Revolutionen och Kontrarevolutionen i Rys-
sland och Finland. ' ' It may be restated as follows :



SECOND PERIOD OF RUSSIANIZATION 321

Russia has long desired to acquire great seaports,
but found herself checked on every side. There have
been four great lines of advance one southwards to
Constantinople and the Mediterranean, one east-
wards to Port Arthur, one southeast to the Persian
Gulf and Indian Ocean, and one northwest to the
Atlantic. Sometimes one line of advance has been
most pressed, sometimes another. The advance to-
wards the Atlantic began with the foundation of St.
Petersburg and the efforts of Peter the Great's suc-
cessors to conquer Finland. A great step forward
was taken in 1809, for not only did Russia acquire
the Finnish ports on the o Gulfs of Finland and
Bothnia, together with the Aland Islands, but (what
is usually little recognized) extended her frontier at
one point to within 20 miles of the Atlantic. A
glance at the map shows that Finland, far up in the
north, pushes as it were an arm between Norway
and Sweden. "For some 300 miles, " writes Mr.
Whitford, "Russia is only separated from the ocean
by a narrow strip of Norwegian territory. At one
point her frontier comes within 18 miles of the
Lyngenf jord. There are many ports in the north of
Norway which would afford excellent naval har-
bours, for instance Vardo, Hammerfest, Tromso.
All of these are kept ice-free throughout the winter
by the Gulf Stream. When it is remembered that
her Empire extends to the Pacific on the east, it will
be seen how great is the temptation for Russia to
acquire those few miles of territory which separate
her from her goal on the west. Further, she might
easily be provided with a practically unbroken line
of communication from West Europe to East Asia.



322 FINLAND AND THE FINNS

For not far south of the Lyngenf jord runs the Lap-
land railway, recently constructed by Sweden. This
joins the Atlantic at Narvik to the Gulf of Bothnia
at Lulea. A branch line covers a part of the short
distance from Lulea to the Finnish frontier at
Haparanda (north of the Gulf of Bothnia). Con-
sequently, if Russia were to acquire this railway,
so temptingly close to her frontiers, she would
possess, save for the one little gap just indicated, a
vast line of railway joining the Atlantic to the
Pacific."

There is no doubt that Russia would have pre-
ferred to reach the sea either in the south or the Far
East. The result of the wars of 1827-8, 1854-5 and
1877-8 seemed to show conclusively that the way
southwards was, for a long time, blocked. Efforts
were now directed to the Far East, and ended in
Russia snatching Port Arthur from the hands of
victorious Japan. Everything possible was done to
fortify and render impregnable the ice-free port
thus won, the Siberian railway being continued to
Port Arthur and a large fleet stationed there. But
Russia's prodigious efforts and sacrifices only ended
in the disasters of the war with Japan and the loss
of the splendid port. Baffled here, Russia turned to
the southeast and the northwest. She continued her
earlier work in the former direction by gradually
overrunning North Persia and preparing to annex
at least part of that kingdom, thus getting nearer
and nearer to the Persian Gulf a process we are
watching to-day. At the same time she continued
her progress towards the Atlantic by returning with
redoubled energy to the russianization of Finland.



SECOND PERIOD OF RUSSIANIZATION 323

Facts which lend confirmation to this theory are
to be found, as Mr. Whitf ord shows, both in Finland,
Russia and the Scandinavian countries.

For instance, Russia has interfered extensively in
Finnish railway policy, forbidding the building of
lines required by Finland for her economic develop-
ment and demanding the construction of others for
strategic purposes. Her object is to secure a rapid
communication, firstly, between Petersburg and
Vasa (where the Gulf of Bothnia is narrowest), and
secondly, between Petersburg and Tornea (on the
Swedish frontier). In previous wars Russian
armies have invaded Sweden via Tprnea 1 and Vasa.
A third line of advance was by the Aland Islands, in
view of which Russia's attempt a few years ago to
cancel the clause prohibiting their fortification is
perhaps significant. Other Russian actions which
are to be taken into account are the russianization
of the Finnish pilot service, the steady but unob-
trusive increase of the Russian military forces in
Finland, the inducement offered to Russian officers
to learn Swedish, and the large number of Russian
spies sent to North Sweden.

Sweden is well aware of the Russian menace, and
as Mr. Whitford shows, has entirely reorganized
her system of defence with a view to meeting it,
stationing more aud more troops in the north to
oppose a possible Russian invasion and building the
powerful fortress of Boden. Many Norwegians are
also keenly alive to the danger. 1

Russia naturally does not proclaim her designs

1 Of. La Revue Scandinave, March 1911. Article by Captain
Axel Roekkebo.



324 FINLAND AND THE FINNS

upon the housetops, but nevertheless evidence of
them sometimes slips out. The Novoje Vremja ex-
pressed a general feeling when, on January 2nd o.s.,
1905, it wrote: "Russia is growing and spreading
over regions of boundless extent. If she is to ac-
complish her historical mission, it is essential that
she should secure access to the open ocean, which
she resembles in greatness." Passing from the
general to the particular, we find General Kuro-
patkin, when discussing Russian frontier policy in
his book, "The Russo-Japanese War" (vol. i, pp.
40-4), declare, with regard to the Swedish frontier:
"The southern portion quite corresponds to our
requirements, but the northern is too artificially
drawn and is disadvantageous to us, as it cuts Fin-
land off from the Arctic Ocean and gives all the coast
to Norway. ' ' The admission is rather striking from
one in so high a position, though it need not be
pressed too far. Nevertheless, it is not weakened
when taken in conjunction with Russian railway
policy in Finland. General Kuropatkin goes on to
argue that "it is our duty to smooth the way as much
as possible for the early unification of Finland and
Russia, in order to ensure Russia's safety against
an attack from Sweden" a manifest absurdity,
which suggests that the real motive of unification is
not defence but aggression. For how could modern
Sweden dare to attack Russia?

Whether the acquisition of a port on the Atlantic
is or is not the main object of Russia's policy in
Finland, the theory just sketched in outline is one
which cannot be brushed aside as merely fantastic.
If it is true, then Finland, in resisting russianiza-



SECOND PERIOD OF EUSSIANIZATION 325

tion, is unconsciously fighting a battle on behalf of
Scandinavian independence and of all nations inter-
ested in its maintenance. If it is not true, Finland
is still fighting a battle for freedom. She is main-
taining the cause of constitutional government as
against autocracy, of law as against anarchy, of
Western civilization as against Eastern civilization,
of nationality as against centralization and level-
ling. She is, moreover, fighting on the side of those
who hope that Eussia will develop on constitutional
lines, and the Russian Constitutionalists are her
natural allies and her stoutest champions. She has
perhaps been a little slow to realize this and to co-
operate with them. For her fate seems to be inex-
tricably bound up with Eussia, and her position in
the Eussian Empire of the future may well depend
on the degree of sympathy she succeeds in fostering
in the mind of the Eussian nation. For it is not
the Emperor, but the Duma, which will determine
her fate in coming years, and even a representative
Duma might as a whole be ignorant and prejudiced
about Finland. Meanwhile, more than on Emperor
or Duma, Finland's future seems to depend on her
own power of resistance. Foreign sympathy is of
great value in stimulating her resistance and heart-
ening her courage, but of itself it can do little. For
Finland it is a question of holding on tenaciously
until better days dawn in Eussia. But should the
unexpected happen and the present Eussian regime
desire a friendly settlement of the Finnish question,
the question would speedily cease to exist. For it
is really an artificial question, raised by Eussia as a
pretext for russianization.



CHAPTER XIX

FINLAND AND THE WAB

WHEN the war broke out in the summer of
1914, the sympathies of Finland were di-
vided. The inclination of the mass of the people
was towards the Allies. In spite of what they had
suffered from Russia they felt instinctively what
some of the better-educated classes failed to grasp
that the defeat of the Allies would involve the de-
feat of democracy and the cause of the small nations.

It might seem strange that Russia, who had op-
pressed many small nations, should be drawing the
sword on behalf of Servia, but, in some mysterious
way, on this occasion Russia was in the right.

This feeling expressed itself in various ways. The
writer was in Stockholm when the war broke out,
and had to return to Finland on a train carrying
some 800 Russians who had escaped from Germany
and other parts of the Continent. Many of these
Russians were penniless and destitute, but all alike
were treated with the utmost kindness and gen-
erosity by the Finns who thronged the railway sta-
tions. There was no suggestion anywhere of the
hostile demonstration which many of the travellers
seemed to expect ; old wrongs were forgotten, and a
new spirit of brotherhood seemed to be taking the
place of the old suspicion. This change of attitude
was reflected in a new tone which became noticeable
in several Russian papers which had been notori-
ously anti-Finnish, and in the manifesto issued by
the Grand Duke Nicholas thanking the Finnish rail-
way men for the efficient help rendered by them at

326



FINLAND AND THE WAR 327

the time of mobolisation. It seemed that the war
might initiate a new era in Eusso-Finnish relations.

There was, however, a minority on whom the im-
mediate struggle to retain their vanishing liberties
pressed so hard, that they failed to see the world-
conflict in its true perspective. For these, smarting
as they were with their wounds, Eussia loomed as
a sinister power which could not by any possibility
be fighting on the side of liberty. Nor was there
any possible defence of France and Britain, who
had irretrievably condemned themselves by joining
hands with the Muscovite. To this minority it was
useless to point out that the whole case of Finland
against Eussia was based on the sacredness of a
" scrap of paper," and that to take sides with the
power which openly repudiated treaties and the
pledged word was practically to justify Eussia in
her aggression upon the rights of Finland. This
party counted among its adherents, also, many
whose education had imbued them with a genuine
love or admiration for Germany, and theorists who
contended that the essence of the world struggle was
the social conflict of Teuton and Slav. Britain, in
siding against Germany, was branded as a traitor to


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Online LibraryArthur ReadeFinland and the Finns → online text (page 21 of 22)