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Paper: Putin gifts Mannerheim document cache to Niinistö

The documents handed over by Russia include a 1919 speech, in which the Marshall Mannerheim issues a warning about the threat posed by Finland’s eastern neighbour.

Asiakirjoja ja Mannerheimin valokuva.
Part of the Mannerheim document cache that Russian President Vladimir Putin gave to Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in August. Image: Matti Porre/Tasavallan presidentin kanslia

A report out Friday in the broadsheet Maaseudun Tulevaisuus cites President Sauli Niinistö as saying that he was surprised to receive from Russian President Vladimir Putin a sheaf of original documents that belonged to Finland’s sixth president, Carl Gustaf Mannerheim.

Niinistö received the documents as a birthday gift from Putin during a visit to Sochi in Russia in August.

The collection contains roughly 170 documents and photographs about Mannerheim and his family.

The collection was presented in a custom-made case with a pair of blue gold-embossed document folders. The folders themselves contained a plastic sleeve holding hundreds of old letters, photos and documents relating to the Marshall or his family history, according to the paper, which was present when Niinistö examined the gift.

"Do what you want" with it

Although the documents were a personal gift from Putin to Niinistö, the Finnish President donated the entire set of papers to the National Archives.

“Do what you want with the gift,” Putin reportedly told Niinistö.

On Thursday, the President’s office confirmed the handover to the National Archives. National Archives chief inspector Kenth Sjöblom said he was struck by the authenticity of the papers.

One of the documents in the collection of papers is a speech that Mannerheim delivered to a delegation of the National Coalition in 1919.

In his speech, Mannerheim, who had recently given up the post of State Regent of Finland, thanked the party for the support he had received and also issued a warning about the country’s eastern neighbour: across the border is a superpower that also has kindred spirits on this side of the border, he cautioned.

“I wonder if the gift-giver has read all of the material,” Niinistö quipped, according to MT.

The President said that he got the impression that Mannerheim was respected in Russia. He said that he did not believe that the token involved any ulterior motives.

The gift package includes photographs of the historical figure, including a postcard he is believed to have made during a visit to a spa in Bad Wildung in the summer of 1936.

A number of letters in the package were sent by Mannerheim’s daughter Sofia her aunt Hanna Lovén in Sweden.

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