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Southern Towns Mark War of Finland Bicentennial

Thursday marks the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the War of Finland, which led to control of the country shifting from Sweden to Russia. There will be events to mark the day in Loviisa, Ruotsinpyhtää and Pyhtää in south-eastern Finland.

The war began on February 21, 1808, when Russian troops crossed the border at Ahvenkoski into Finland, which was then a province of Sweden. That evening they captured the town of Loviisa, without a formal declaration of war.

That set off a year and a half of fighting, which ended on September 17, 1809. Finland then became an autonomous Grand Duchy under the Russian crown -- until independence in 1917.

On Thursday, history buffs in Ahvenkoski and Loviisa will stage reenactments of the day's events.

Meanwhile in Espoo, historians begin a three-day conference on Thursday, aimed at placing the War of Finland in a broader European context of the Napoleonic Wars. Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen will deliver the opening address.