The trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks
Ukraine Regular contacts with Finland have been formed from the 9th century BC – with the formation of a stable trade route ”from the Varangians to the Greeks”, which connected Kyivan state with Vikings’ trading post on the territory of Finnish tribes Suomi and Häme. When the Ruruk dynasty appeared on the Kyiv throne with their Swedish military druzhinas, outcomers from the Finno-Baltic countries were constantly present in Ukrainian Dnipro region to participate in Byzantine military campaigns of Prince Svyatoslav.
Prince Vladimir pursued an active policy in Finno-Baltic countries, Prince Yaroslav the Wise founded fortress Yuryev (Tartu) in Estonia, the tip of which was pointed to capture the waters of the Gulf of Finland. Archaeologists point out the facts of groups of Finno-Ugric population’s resettlement from the Baltic Sea region to Ukraine, in particular to tributaries of the rivers Sula, Psel. The ancestors of the modern Finns were in these flows.
Bohdan Khmelnytsky led the negotiations with Duke Johan of Finland (future king of Sweden), concerning the military alliance, but only Ivan Mazepa managed to sign it up. Union of Ukraine and Sweden, concluded in 1708, resulted in a fragmented activation of the Finnish-Ukrainian relations. It is about the soldiers of the King Charles XII’s army, the majority of which came from Finland (possession Swedish kingdom at that time). A part of the Finnish levy got killed in Poltava battle with the forces of the Moscow prince Petro Romanov.
Finns and Ukrainians – the citizens of one country
Information about Finland in Ukraine increased exponentially after the construction of St. Petersburg fortress on the Gulf and Finland joining the Russian Empire in1809. Thus, most of the Ukrainian nobles, writers, military men, who lived in St. Petersburg in the XIX century, had personal contacts with the Finns, and regularly visited the Grand Duchy of Finland (M. Gogol, Hrebinka, Shevchenko). Finnish-Ukrainian contacts formed on the territory of Russian Karelia, for example the first translation of Kalevala runes by Ukrainian poet Hnidych was made here (historically it is one of the first translations of ”Kalevala” fragments, which have not yet been composed by E. Lönnröt into a separate epic opus).
Ukrainian graduates of St. Petersburg higher educational establishments contributed to Finnish science. Thus, Maksym Antonovych (1835, Bilopillia, Ukraine – 1918), better known as the materialist philosopher, conducted a thorough research of Finland’s and Karelia’s geological structure. His work ”Ice hypothesis and glacial phenomena in Finland and Povenetskyi County” (1876) became a classic in the field of natural sciences.
Relations between the Ukrainian and Finnish leaders revived in the beginning of the 20th century, including Sergei Bulgakov – the famous philosopher Nikolai Bulgakov’s brother – his poem written in 1903 was dedicated to freedom-loving Finnish people. In 1916 the nationalists of both countries attended the conference of the Union of Nations in Lausanne. In 1917 in Ukrainian military committees started acting in Finland, in Helsinki and Turku a series of demonstrations under the blue and yellow flags were held. Ukrainian-Finnish diplomatic relations were established, the ”Independent Finland” brochure was published in Kiev. Friendly attitude of the Finnish government to Ukraine was determined by a long friendship of Marshal Carl Mannerheim and Ukrainian Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky who kept in touch until 1945.
Between the two World Wars
One of the popularizers of Ukrainian issues in Finland was Roman law historian, diplomat Herman Hummerus, the first Ambassador of Finland in Ukraine in 1918. The Embassy of UNR in Finland in 1918 – 1920 was headed by K. Lossky and M. Zalizniak. In Finland, between the two world wars there was a small Ukrainian community, in the life of which was involved Yuri Horlis-Gorsky, the participant of the liberation struggle. In the interwar period Finno-Ugric peoples’ immigrants of Russia, who settled in Finland, together with Ukrainians took part in Prometeus movement. In the 1942 – 1944 acted the Committee of help to Ukrainian prisoners and Ukrainian Information Bureau under the leadership the OUN member B. Kentrzhynskyi, the Finnish armed forces consisted unites formed of Ukrainian military prisoners. The official representative of Finland (Mr. Pesonen) was a member of the international expert group which studied the facts of mass executions of civilians in Vynnytsia by the NKVD, USSR (1943).
At the time of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev stimulated Ukrainian-Finnish cultural relations. In 1954 Ukrainian poet Pavlo Tychyna visited Finland, Turku in particular, where he had a meeting with the President Juho Paasikivi. The poet left diaries about the Finnish journey (parts printed in the book ”Pavlo Tychyna. From the diary,” Kyiv, 1981, p.180-188). In 196 the exhibition of Finnish art, Tampere was arranged in Kyiv, later in the honor of this city was named a street in the capital left bank; sometimes the exchange of artistic ensembles between Finland and the USSR take place. The young Ukrainian composer, accordionist Vladimir Zubytsky participated in the International Competition of accordionists in Helsinki (1975), for which he was awarded the «Coupe mondiale» IMC-UNESCO for the implementation of miniature requiem ”Seven tears.” 1989 in Turku was arranged an exhibition of Scythian gold from Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine.
In 2000 – 2005 the Department of Ethnology and Local History Faculty of Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University held four Ukrainian-Finnish scientific symposiums, as the results of which were edited the collections of articles and published memories of the first Ukrainian Ambassador in Finland Herman Hummerusa named ”Ukraine in Crucial Times,” Finnish album of graphic works by artist and ethnographer Yuri Pavlovich.