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Kekkonen Offered Large Part of Lapland to USSR

The late Finnish President Urho Kekkonen had offered half of Lapland to the Soviet Union in 1968. The offer was made to former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in exchange for Karelia. Kekkonen had proposed offering the area north of the 67th parallel. The region would have included several municipalities including Enontekiö, Inari and Utsjoki. According to Juha Pohjonen, a researcher at the University of Joensuu, Kekkonen tried to swap the region for Karelia. "The deal did not take place, but it was meant to spark interest in the matter among top leadership in the Soviet Union," said Pohjonen. In return, Finland could have asked for the city of Vyborg back, the region west of the city, and the Saimaa canal. The deal however did not move forward. Pohjonen said that the Soviet Union was not interested in the trade. "If the USSR would have accepted the proposal, I would assume that Kekkonen would have been ousted from power," Pohjonen said. The matter was reported first in the newspaper Kaleva in an article written by Pohjonen and researcher Jussi Pekkarinen. YLE

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