Finnish Democratic Republic
The Finnish Democratic Republic was a short-lived (1939–40) government dependent
Puppet state
A puppet state is a nominal sovereign of a state who is de facto controlled by a foreign power. The term refers to a government controlled by the government of another country like a puppeteer controls the strings of a marionette...

 on and recognised only by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. It nominally operated in those parts of Finnish Karelia
Finnish Karelia
Karelia is a historical province of Finland. It refers to the Western Karelia that during the second millennium has been under western dominance, religiously and politically. Western, i.e. Finnish Karelia is separate from Eastern, i.e...

 that were occupied by the Soviet Union during the Winter War
Winter War
The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 – three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty...


The Soviet Union argued that it was the only rightful government for all of Finland that was capable of ending the Winter War and restoring peace. However, before the end of the war, the Soviets gave up this interpretation to make peace with the existing government of Finland
Government of Finland
Finland is a republic with a representative democracy governed accordingly to the principles of parliamentarism. Legislative power is vested in the Parliament of Finland . Executive power is exercised by the Cabinet, officially termed Council of State , which is led by the Prime Minister, the Head...



The regime was also known under the colloquial name of Terijoki Government , as Terijoki was the first town to be captured by the Soviet Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

. The government is also occasionally called in Finnish historiography as the Kuusinen Government . Officially the government had the name of Finnish People's Government .


The Finnish Democratic Republic was established on 1 December 1939 in the Finnish border town of Terijoki (now Zelenogorsk
Zelenogorsk, Saint Petersburg
Zelenogorsk , ' before 1948, is a municipal town in Kurortny District of the federal city of Saint Petersburg, Russia, located in part of the Karelian Isthmus on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, and a station on the St. Petersburg-Vyborg railroad. It is located about northwest of central Saint...

, Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

). During its lifespan Otto Ville Kuusinen
Otto Ville Kuusinen
Otto Wilhelm Kuusinen was a Finnish-born Soviet politician, literary historian, and poet, who, after the defeat of the Reds in the Finnish Civil War, fled to the Soviet Union, where he worked until his death.- Early life :Kuusinen was born to the family of village tailor Wilhelm Juhonpoika...

 was prime minister and head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

. The cabinet was made up of Soviet citizens, leftist Finns who had fled to Soviet Russia
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic , commonly referred to as Soviet Russia, Bolshevik Russia, or simply Russia, was the largest, most populous and economically developed republic in the former Soviet Union....

 after the Finnish Civil War
Finnish Civil War
The Finnish Civil War was a part of the national, political and social turmoil caused by World War I in Europe. The Civil War concerned control and leadership of The Grand Duchy of Finland as it achieved independence from Russia after the October Revolution in Petrograd...

. A declaration delivered via TASS
Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union
The Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union , was the central agency for collection and distribution of internal and international news for all Soviet newspapers, radio and television stations...

 on behalf of the Finnish Democratic Republic stated that, "The People's Government in its present composition regards itself as a provisional government. Immediately upon arrival in Helsinki, capital of the country, it will be reorganised and its composition enlarged by the inclusion of representatives of the various parties and groups participating in the people's front of toilers. The final composition of the People's Government, its powers and actions, are to be sanctioned by a Diet elected on the basis of universal equal direct suffrage by secret ballot." Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev...

 spoke to the German ambassador to the Soviet Union on November 30—a day before the proclamation of the Finnish Democratic Republic—saying that, "This government would not be Soviet but a democratic republic. Nobody will set up soviets there, but we hope that it will be a government that we can reach agreement with on safeguarding the security of Leningrad
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...


Relations with the Soviet Union

The Soviet government entered into diplomatic relations with the "people's government". On the first day of its existence, the regime agreed to lease the Hanko Peninsula
Hanko Peninsula
The Hanko Peninsula , also spelled Hango, is the southernmost point of mainland Finland. The soil is a sandy moraine, the last tip of the Salpausselkä ridge, and vegetation consists mainly of pine and low shrubs...

; to cede a slice of territory on the Karelian Isthmus
Karelian Isthmus
The Karelian Isthmus is the approximately 45–110 km wide stretch of land, situated between the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga in northwestern Russia, to the north of the River Neva . Its northwestern boundary is the relatively narrow area between the Bay of Vyborg and Lake Ladoga...

; and to sell an island in the Gulf of Finland
Gulf of Finland
The Gulf of Finland is the easternmost arm of the Baltic Sea. It extends between Finland and Estonia all the way to Saint Petersburg in Russia, where the river Neva drains into it. Other major cities around the gulf include Helsinki and Tallinn...

, along with sections of the Kalastajasaarento near the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

 to the Soviet Union.

Kuusinen and Molotov signed a mutual assistance agreement and a secret protocol on 2 December 1939. The contents of the agreement was very similar to what the Soviet foreign ministry had planned earlier in October 1939, though it never was presented to the Finnish government. According to the new agreement, the Soviet Union would cede a much larger area, the Eastern Karelia, except for the Murmansk railroad, in exchange for the same territories that the Soviets had demanded in earlier negotiations
Background of the Winter War
The background of the Winter War covers the period before the outbreak of the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union in 1939–1940, stretching from Finland's Declaration of Independence in 1917 to the Soviet-Finnish negotiations in 1938–1939. Before its independence, Finland was an...

 from the Republic of Finland.

The agreement was signed in Moscow, as ten days earlier draft, the signature location would be Käkisalmi and the Soviet signer Andrei Zhdanov
Andrei Zhdanov
Andrei Alexandrovich Zhdanov was a Soviet politician.-Life:Zhdanov enlisted with the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1915 and was promoted through the party ranks, becoming the All-Union Communist Party manager in Leningrad after the assassination of Sergei Kirov in 1934...

. The Molotov–Kuusinen agreement mentioned leasing the Hanko Peninsula
Hanko Peninsula
The Hanko Peninsula , also spelled Hango, is the southernmost point of mainland Finland. The soil is a sandy moraine, the last tip of the Salpausselkä ridge, and vegetation consists mainly of pine and low shrubs...

, and determining the number of troops to be appointed in a separate agreement. Before the 1990s historians could only speculate about its existence and content until in 1997, during a joint Finnish-Russian project, the Russian professor Oleg Rzesevski discovered the protocol in the Moscow Kremlin
Moscow Kremlin
The Moscow Kremlin , sometimes referred to as simply The Kremlin, is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River , Saint Basil's Cathedral and Red Square and the Alexander Garden...

. The content is quite similar to protocols the Soviet Union signed with Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

, Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 and Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

 in September–October 1939.

Reaction in Finland and abroad

The Finnish Democratic Republic failed to gain support among Finnish workers as the Soviet Union had hoped. Instead, in the face of the invasion, Finnish society became strongly united in what is called the "Spirit of the Winter War
Spirit of the Winter War
The Spirit of Winter War is the national unity which is credited with having saved Finland from disintegrating along class and ideological lines under the Soviet invasion during the Winter War of November 30, 1939 to March 13, 1940....

". The Democratic Republic also failed to gain any international recognition aside from the Soviet Union itself, although a number of prominent left-wing activists and writers such as Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru , often referred to with the epithet of Panditji, was an Indian statesman who became the first Prime Minister of independent India and became noted for his “neutralist” policies in foreign affairs. He was also one of the principal leaders of India’s independence movement in the...

, George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

, Martin Andersen Nexø
Martin Andersen Nexø
Martin Andersen Nexø was a Danish writer. He was the first significant Danish author to depict the working class in his writings, and the first great Danish socialist, later communist, writer.-Biography:...

 and John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck
John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. was an American writer. He is widely known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden and the novella Of Mice and Men...

 voiced their support for the government. In Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, state newspapers gave their support for the People's Republic because of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.

Josif Stalin was well aware of the domestic political situation in Finland based on Soviet intelligence information, and thus did not anticipate that the establishment of the People's Republic would cause any revolutionary action or popular uprisings against the legitimate Finnish Government.


On 12 March 1940, the Finnish Democratic Republic was merged with the Karelian ASSR within the RSFSR to form the Karelo-Finnish SSR, a Soviet republic
Republics of the Soviet Union
The Republics of the Soviet Union or the Union Republics of the Soviet Union were ethnically-based administrative units that were subordinated directly to the Government of the Soviet Union...

 in its own right, after Finland had ceded the areas to the Soviet Union in the Moscow Peace Treaty.

Terijoki Government

Minister In office
Chairman of the People's Government and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland
Otto Wille Kuusinen

1939.2.12 – 1940.12.3
Assistant Chairman of the People's Government and Minister of Finance
Mauritz Rosenberg

1939.2.12 – 1940.12.3
Minister of Defense
Akseli Anttila

1939.2.12 – 1940.12.3
Minister of Internal Affairs
Tuure Lehén
Tuure Lehén
Tuure Lehén was a Finnish Communist who served as Minister of Internal affairs in the People's Provisional Government imposed by the Soviet Union in December 1939....

1939.2.12 – 1940.12.3
Minister of Agriculture
Armas Äikiä
Armas Äikiä
Armas Äikiä was a Finnish communist writer and journalist. He wrote the Anthem of Karelo-Finnish SSR. A citizen of two countries, who had several collection of poems published in the Soviet Union. Äikiä was one of the few Finnish exile writers and politicians who in the 1930s and 1940s avoided...

1939.2.12 – 1940.12.3
Minister of Education
Inkeri Lehtinen

1939.2.12 – 1940.12.3
Minister of Karelian Affairs
Paavo Prokkonen

1939.2.12 – 1940.12.3

See also

  • Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic
    Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic
    The Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic was a short-lived Finnish socialist government, established by a revolution just prior to the Finnish Civil War and in the aftermath of the October Revolution...

    , an earlier, independent socialist state which existed for several months in 1918.
  • Finland-Soviet Union Peace and Friendship Society
  • Latvian Socialist Soviet Republic
    Latvian Socialist Soviet Republic
    The Latvian Socialist Soviet Republic was a short-lived socialist republic formed during the Latvian War of Independence. It was proclaimed on 17 December 1918 with the political, economic, and military backing of Vladimir Lenin and his Bolshevik government in the Russian SFSR...

  • Commune of the Working People of Estonia
    Commune of the Working People of Estonia
    The Commune of the Working People of Estonia was an unrecognised government claiming the Bolshevik-occupied parts of Republic of Estonia as its territories during the Estonian War of Independence and the Russian Civil War...

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