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Koivisto Denies Russia Offered Karelia

Former President Mauno Koivisto has denied reports that Russia offered to sell Finland eastern territories that it lost to the Soviet Union in World War Two.

In an interview with the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, Koivisto who was president 1982 - 1994 also said that reports are unfounded that while in office he had set up a secret working group to evaluate the cost of regaining the territories in Karelia.

The newspaper Kainuun Sanomat published claims last week that in the early 90s, Russia had been prepared to sell Finland the arctic area of Petsamo and territories in Karelia ceded to the Soviet Union after the war. According to that report, a close advisor of then-President Boris Yeltsin, First Deputy Prime Minister Gennady Burbulis approached Finnish leaders about the matter.

Koivisto now says that neither the Soviet Union, or Russia, ever offered to readjust the borders, nor did Finland present such a suggestion.

President Tarja Halonen, the prime minister and foreign minister of the period in question, Esko Aho and Paavo Väryrnen, have all said they had never heard anything about Russia making an offer to Finland.

President Koivisto told Helsingin Sanomat that he decided to make a statement on the affair because he feared that the false claims would soon end up in history textbooks.

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