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Republic of Karelia
2001

The rain is ice cold and the wind wines in the house corners. The fishing boats rock across the lake, the dog's scolding dies to the distorted sound of Valteris radio, which leans against the weather bitten fisher cottage's wall, consulted by some unclear words, though a clear day one can hear the echo all over the village Venehjärvi.
The whitefish ridicule country; Republic of Karelia in Russia, the place where a song was born of the pike's abdomen, where Elias Lönnrot on 1830’s strolled around collecting materials to the the Finnish nation alder Kalevala. The poet villages where the people and the natura still live in complete balance, handicraft is an inherited matter and the common man’s sense still rules.

The people of Karelia who confess neither in Russian nor Finnish origin, have a long tradition of living in the shadow of oppressions…
After the Russian revolution the Finns marched through the villages in thoughts of emancipation, bolsèvics monitored their new state-system and English legioners protected their economic interests. 1922 quantities of karelians had to escape to Finland due to the emancipation struggle but most of them returned to the native villages after 1923 when the situation once more had been stabilized.
In 30’s Sovjet Union based kolkhozses on the countryside where the villagers were forced to participate the system. 1941, during the continuation war on the finnish border, an order of evacuation was given. The older villagers in Venehjärvi remember that day: “…there was an order and so we just had to go… first we had to row 45 km and then we were transported to the areas of Arkangel, where we then stayed for four years.”
Of 12 000 people only 600 stayed on the areas occupied by Finland. After the war, people were not allowed on the front-zone villages but many of the other, as also Venehjärvi, were re-established to serve again as kolkhozses.
1950-60 the government created a new solution: the village kolkhozs were taken down and a bigger centralized collective, a sovchos, was created. The small villages were liquidated entirely and the villagers re-located on sovchoses. This operation was called “the liquidation process of the perspectiveless village units”. A large part of the villages remained uninhabited after the big movement. 1991 the Autonomous Karelian Sovietrepublique changed it’s name to the Republic of Karelia, but several of the villages still stand empty today due to the economic impossibilities.

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