The Speech of the Finnish Social Democratic Party Representative [Evert] Huttunen
at the Session of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies on June 20, 1917

Уважаемые товарищи, рабочіе и солдаты! Esteemed Comrades, workers and soldiers!

- - As you know, the Congress of the Finnish Social Democratic Party, having discussed a few days ago the question of the political situation of Finland, decided to approve the resolution with which you are probably already acquainted, and which expresses the demand of the right to complete self-determination for Finland in other words, the recognition by the Russian Government of Finnish independence.

This point of view, which was accepted unanimously by the Party at a conference, is in no way a fantastic idea and is not the outcome of a sudden decision. Some of your political workers may declare, and have already declared outside the walls of the Congress, that until quite recently no mention was made by the Finns of political independence, but that they spoke only of the extension of their rights in the management of their own internal affairs and of the increase of the power of the Sejm, etc. This is quite true . . .

The crystallization of opinion now shared by the Social Democratic Party of Finland has undoubtedly been speeded up by the events that have taken place during the last two to three months. Allow me as a representative of the Finnish Social Democratic Party to disclose to you quite frankly the opinion of a large number of Finnish people.

According to this opinion, which we venture to announce, the Provisional Government has aroused the distrust of part of the Finns by delaying settlement of the question put forward by the Senate, namely, that of increasing the right of the Senate and the Finnish Sejm.

Some Russian statesmen have asked recently, "What do you Finns actually want? Have you not already been given legal rights, and has not your legal status been re-established which was formerly annulled by the predatory Imperial government?"

We do not deny that this is the actual situation. The legal status has been reestablished in accord with the manifesto of March last, which assured us that our autonomy was secured. But this does not satisfy us. The Finnish people have been developed culturally, and the Finnish working class has become educated and class-conscious to such an extent that it cannot be satisfied with this declaration; it cannot be satisfied with having achieved a legal status within the limits that have already existed one hundred years, which is based upon the constitution and the form of government resulting from the overturn successfully achieved by the Swedish king, Gustav III, in 1772. The autonomy which is now offered to Finland is simply a bad form of the Swedish liberal constitution which has already been in force 150 years. Finland does not wish any longer to remain under Russia's protection and in the position of Russia's stepdaughter.

Comrades! Although we knew that the idea of the independence of Finland appeared to be clear and indisputable in the eyes of every honest citizen of every free country, we were aware, at the same time, that the principle of the independence of Finland and its declaration finally by the Finnish Social Democratic Party would be misrepresented. We were not mistaken. As soon as the declaration was made known, many bourgeois papers in Petrograd, without printing the declaration in its original form, hastened to attack our party. We found in the articles published in these papers a number of accusations which have already been directed against Finland during the last few years.

Those who ignominiously wish to bring to naught the achievements of the Russian revolution and those who declare that the proclamation of Finnish independence was a criminal act on the part of the Social Democratic Party have played their role very cleverly by resorting to calumny and by assuring the Russian public that the Finnish Social Democratic Party would not have thought of the independence of Finland had not the Central European Powers already given their assurances of the support of the principle of Finnish independence.

This accusation, as can be easily understood, has no ground whatever. The Finnish people desire to be given the complete right of self-determination and therefore, do not wish a Russian or English or German or any other imperialist master.

In reply to those who think that the independence of Finland will be dangerous to Russia in view of its proximity to Finland, it can simply be stated that Switzerland, for example, did not prove to be a danger to Italy or France; Denmark did not threaten Germany; Serbia was not formidable to Austria, etc. In fact, we have never heard that the small nations represented a danger to the existence of great ones, but we know of reverse cases. All that the small nations wish, as far as we understand the idea, is to be allowed to live in peace, to work and to develop their own culture and their own economic prosperity, every nation to do it in its own way and for its own happiness and, in this way, for the happiness of mankind in general.

When the Social Democrats of Finland are accused of deviation from the program of our party and the principles of internationalism by supporting the principle of self-determination of Finland, it appears that a notion is propounded which only proves that these circles, which are accustomed to approve of violence, are at the same time not very particular as to the means they choose, when they are confronted with the desire of the people for freedom and independence, after centuries of political guardianship. The viewpoint of the Finnish Social Democratic Party, as it is expressed in the already mentioned Congress of the Party, is such that every Social Democrat, if he wishes to be honest and just, without considering whether he belongs to the party of Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, or Socialist- Revolutionaries, cannot but approve of it. Therefore, the Social Democratic Party of Finland appeals to the representatives of the proletariat of Russia and expects their support of its program. It depends to a great extent on your influence and your decision whether the Finnish people will be granted the full right of self-determination or whether they are to remain under the government of the capitalist classes and bourgeoisie of Russia. . . . Did not Russian revolutionary democracy declare through its Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, as well as through its Provisional Government, the independence of Poland? . . .

You cannot make an exception of Finland only on the ground that she was destined for more than one hundred years to be plundered and oppressed by the ruling classes of Russia. You yourselves could not allow Germany to dictate the conditions of peace to Russia or permit the future democratic legislation of Russia in her internal and foreign policies to be determined by Berlin. You would not stand the slightest hint of such a supposition. You just would not allow it On the contrary, as one man you would rise against it and, if it was necessary, you would prefer death to such humiliation. But if that is the situation and if you are just, how can you refuse Finland the right of self-determination and how can you demand or even make a supposition that Finland is to be subordinated to the Petrograd government, and that it is to be left to the mercy of the Russian bourgeoisie? Having already recognized the independence of Poland, Albania, Serbia, and Belgium, if you are at all considerate, you must recognize the right of Finland also. Do not deprive Finland of this right for the simple reason that it is weak, but recognize this right in principle because the Finnish people have reached their political adolescence. Finland does not represent any longer a borderland incapable of self-government. Admit this because the Finnish people, in spite of the fact that they are a small nation, have a full right to enter the family of peoples on an equal footing and to enjoy an independent development of their country.


Source: Izvestia, June 23, 1917. In The Russian Provisional Government 1917. Documents. Selected and edited by Robert Paul Browder and Alexander Kerensky. Stanford University Press, 1961.
[Last passage of Huttunen's speech in Izvestiya, not included above:
Если вы поступите такимъ образомъ, то тогда финлянскому пролетаріату будетъ легче вести свою освободительную классовую борьбу противъ своихъ собственныхъ угнетателей, буржуазныхъ классовъ, тогда и между этими общими сосѣдями Финляндіею и Россіею, установится дружба, такое довѣріе; которое принесетъ взаимное—счастіе и преуспѣяніе.

If you act this way, then it will be easier for the Finnish proletariat to wage its liberation class war against its own oppressors, the bourgeois classes, and then between their neighbours, Finland and Russia, will also be established friendship, such a confidence, which will bring mutual happiness and success.]

Finland's Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Finnish Parliament on December 6, 1917

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