The first part of the book describes the process of building a new socialist world in Karelia. The new political elite of Karelia came from Finland, dreaming of creating a socialist world with high economic and cultural standards. During Stalin's new national policy in the 1930s the situation changed dramatically - the Finnish elite was liquidated. Several articles examine central elements of this development as well as the new planned economy. Crucial for the Karelians' self-esteem was the result of the devastating experience of The Great Patriotic War. Finland played a special role: it had occupied Karelian territory and fought alongside with Fascist Germany. This "enemy picture" has since lived on in Karelia and occupied a very central position in the mind of the Soviet citizen. The second part deals with the creation of civic society, and the new cultural and ethnic-national situation. The breakdown of the Soviet Union brought about a multiparty system. How did the people take part in the elections of the 1990s and how were the parties organised? After the collapse of the Soviet Union the intelligentsia were initially very active in politics, but since then have generally withdrawn from political life.
"An exemplary contribution by Finnish and Russian scholars into international discussion. --The time after Finnish occupation has hardly been dealt with in any research. The topic is still difficult and politically sensitive." Arto Luukkanen, Helsingin Sanomat
" With its strong theme of center versus periphery and its discussion of the difficult development of civil society in Karelia, this volume is a welcome addition to the scholarship on non-Russian areas of the Soviet Union and its successor states." Charles E. Clark, University of Wisconsin