Saimaa Times 2023

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MAGAZINE FOR VISITORS 2023 IN THIS ISSUE Summer follies Page 8 The right way to take a sauna Page 12 Putin’s critic Page 18 Muisti Centre of War and PeaCe What if it had been you Page 21 a ColuMn by leena Parkkinen Clean sheets and bullfights please leave this magazine for the next guest –thank you!

Taste the experiences in the wonderful scenery of southern Lake Saimaa

Saimaa offers not only beautiful nature, but also gastronomic experiences. The experienced guides of Saimaan Palju Events will take you to the nature, why not try the floating sauna. Go and enjoy the beauty of Saimaa with delicacies on a cruise on M/S Camilla from Lappeenranta.

Enjoy high-quality food in the historical Wolkoff restaurant, experience the atmosphere of the boulevard of Finland’s Monaco from the deck of the Prinsessa Armaada ship restaurant, and catch your own salmon in the Vuoksi Fishing Park on the river Vuoksi in Imatra.

Have a coffee in the idyllic Pulsa station milieu in the middle of nowhere and taste

Finland’s best coffee on the Satamatie 6 terrace at the entrance to the Lappeenranta fortress area.

Admire the countryside around Olkkolan Hovi manor in Savitaipale and bask in the sun in the excellent scenery of Hotel Salpa. Enjoy the manor milieu at Karelian Gourmet’s dinner and blend into the local milieu while enjoying bison burgers in Parikkala.

Admire one of Finland’s most beautiful buildings, the Scandic Imatran Valtionhotelli -castle hotel, in the banks of Imatrankoski rapids. Ignite the pulse of the city center on VENN’s terrace. We have plenty of flavors - choose yours.



ILOISEN PÄSSIN MAALAISPUOTI OLKKOLAN HOVI MANSION SCANDIC IMATRAN VALTIONHOTELLI KARELIAN GOURMET KARELIA LINES VUOKSI FISHING PARK ORIGINAL SOKOS HOTEL LAPPEE / RESTAURANT VENN goSaimaa Ltd’s Competitiveness and renewal of Saimaa tourism through culinary experiences and networks (A78745, ERDF) is funded as a part of the European Union’s response to the covid-19 pandemic (REACT-EU).

Publisher Teemu Jaakonkoski

Sales manager Raimo Kurki Tel. +358 45 656 7216

Sales Pirkko Puurunen Tel. +358 40 507 1002

Cover photos Margarita Avdeeva,

Theatre. Photo: Juha Sorjonen / Snowshoeing. Photo: Mikko Nikkinen /

Breakfast. Photo: Visit Saimaa Saimaa ringed seal. Photo: Visit Saimaa Leena Parkkinen. Photo: Jonne Räsänen / Otava

CONTENTS Welcome to Eastern Finland! 6 Summer follies 8 Saimaa area in a nutshelll 10 The right way to take a sauna 12 Map of Saimaa region 14 Hotels providing Saimaa Times 16 Putin’s critic 18 What if it had been you 21 Clean sheets and bullfights – Column by Leena Parkkinen 24 Saimaa Times map application for mobile phones and tablets: The magazine is available in hotel rooms in the Saimaa region (see page 16). Next issue will be out in March 2024. 18 21 8 12 Saimaa Times Magazine for Visitors Issue 2023 ISSN 2814-4651 (print) ISSN 2814-4813 (online) Published by Mobile-Kustannus Oy Brahenkatu 14 D 94 FI-20100 Turku, Finland
in chief
Roope Lipasti
Graphic design & layout Petteri Mero Mainostoimisto Knok Oy Printed by Newprint Oy 4041 1018
Petersburg Ballet

Welcome to Eastern Finland!

Finland is said to be the land of thousands of lakes, and for good reason, as there are between 57,000 and 168,000 lakes in Finland, depending on how big a puddle is counted as a lake. To be included in the latter number, a lake must have a surface area of at least 500 square meters, which is admittedly quite small for a lake.

In any Case, the largest and most beautiful lake in Finland is Lake Saimaa, which is also the fourth largest lake in Europe. Lake Saimaa flows into Lake Ladoga, which in turn flows into the Neva River, continuing to St. Petersburg and finally to the Baltic Sea. The cities of Lappeenranta, Joensuu, Mikkeli, Imatra, Savonlinna, and Varkaus are all located on the shores of Lake Saimaa, so you can justifiably say that Lake Saimaa defines Eastern Finland.

The Lake SaiMaa region is so extensive that in the northern part, you are in Savo, and in the southern part, in Karelia. Savo and Karelia are two different provinces that, according to traditional clichés, have quite different populations – completely different tribes, to use the old groupings.

If you ask a Finn what a typical Karelian is like, they will probably tell you that Karelians are cheerful people who like to laugh, like a Finnish version of a stereotypical Latin American. In Karelia, it’s okay to laugh, cry, and show emotions. Karelians are also very talkative, and if this doesn’t seem noteworthy to a visitor to Finland, it’s worth remembering that the further west you go in Finland, the more reserved and tight-lipped the people are. In Karelia, they apparently aren’t familiar with the famous quote that describes the Finns “being silent in two languages.”

In any case, in places like Imatra, Lappeenranta, and Joensuu, you can experience the cheerful and hospitable Karelian spirit. Not

to mention the best Karelian pasties, by far. Karelian pasties are one of Finland’s national dishes: small, open-face pies with a thin rye crust that are usually filled with rice porridge (barley porridge or mashed potatoes are other acceptable fillings). Karelian pasties are topped with a mixture of butter and chopped boiled eggs, and they are definitely a delicacy worth trying!

The Savonians Who live on the shores of Lake Saimaa are again a group of their own. According to the clichés, they are easy-going and good-natured, and their sense of humor is in a class of its own. People from Savo are also said to be sly, but not in a negative sense. Rather, it refers to the fact that you can never be quite sure what a Savonian is thinking or whether they are teasing you. There’s a saying that when a Savonian talks, responsibility falls on the listener. A Savonian has definite ideas about everything, but on the other hand, he might have a different opinion after all.

Since everyone in Savo lives no more than a few meters from the shore, it should come as no surprise that the area’s food culture incorporates fish in many forms. Fried vendace, a plateful of small lake fish, is one famous and typical Savo food. In Savo, they also swear by rye: it is used not only to make bread, but also for lingonberry rye porridge.

Lake SaiMaa has about 14,850 kilometers of coastline when its 13,700 islands are taken into account, so visitors to the area will find no shortage of things to do and see. Go have a good time!

P hotos: Juan Martinez / go s ai M aa
Roope Lipasti is the editor in chief of Saimaa Times.
Photo: riikka kantinkoski
is one famous and
Savo food. 6

Jumping for joy

Juva Tourist Information at Juva ABC, Tulostie 1, Juva • Tel. +358 400 761 944 • •
In TeaHouse of Wehmais, Rapio Mill (Rapion Mylly) and other gastronomic destinations you can enjoy the best local food. The Juva Museum, the Juva Karelian Museum and Art Gallery Kuninkaankartano in Partala King’s Manor yard introduce you to the agricultural life before and now. Pattoi heritage house was built in 1873. Nowadays the museum tells a story from a time when long-established living and farming traditions were alive. Welcome to Sulkava • Pisamalahti Hill Fort • Vilkaharju Nature trail • Squirrel Route for canoeing and tour biking • Vekaransalmi Landscape Road 438 Shops and cafés in the architecturally stunning wooden house milieu will offer their best Discover the hidden treasures of Lake Saimaa
The Squirrel Route (Oravareitti) is a 57 km long family-friendly canoeing route between Juva and Sulkava.

Summer follies

Sitting on anthills, throwing boots, competitive sauna bathing, carrying your wife through an obstacle course - would you call these things sports? According to Finns, they are.

The best place to start telling the story of Finland’s strange summer sports is the same as for any other story about Finnishness: the sauna. In 2010, the World Sauna Championships were organized for the twelfth and final time. After six minutes, the competition was stopped and the organizers removed the disoriented finalists, Russia’s Vladimir Ladyzhenskiy and

Finland’s Timo Kaukonen, from the sauna. Both were suffering severe burns, and Ladyzhenskiy died at the scene despite efforts to resuscitate him. Kaukonen suffered burns over 70 percent of his body and was in a coma for two months but survived. Today, Kaukonen is back to sauna bathing.

Jari “Lyde” Lyytikäinen’s attempt to set a world record for standing in a swamp nearly ended as tragically. Lyytikäinen, who calls himself a life artist,

P hoto: a ntti a i M ok oivisto/ l ehtikuva
Christina saarinen
The boot throwing World Championships 2005 were held in Kokemaki, Western Finland. In picture Swedish Jarmo Kieleväinen (3rd) in his throw.

was caught off guard by the powerful suction of a bog hole, and only the quick reaction of his assistants saved him. “When I realized what sort of bog hole it was, I thought I was done for,” Lyytikäinen said later in a TV interview on MTV3.

Lyytikäinen has had more success with sitting on an anthill and in a freezer – both sports of their own. The world record for the former stands at a respectable five hours. “These are one-time deals. Once you’ve done it, you don’t really want to do it again. You’re competing with yourself there. The result is the reward,” Lyytikäinen said.

Both Lyytikäinen and Kaukonen represent traditional Finnish unyielding heroism. They’re like the beloved character Lieutenant Koskela from the classic Finnish war novel The Unknown Soldier, who is said to “eat iron and shit chains.”

An even closer point of comparison could be the world-famous Finnish stunt group the Dudesons. This is how the audience was warned about the group’s activities in the opening credits of the TV series Dudesons in America: “Most of the stunts in the series are dangerous and stupid. The Dudesons are professionals and jerks. Don't try to imitate anything you see on the show.”

Many other Finnish summer sports don’t dive as deep into the dark heart of toxic masculinity – they’re simply weird. The most famous around the world is probably wife-carrying. World championships in the sport have been held annually in Sonkajärvi since 1992, though they were cancelled during the coronavirus pandemic. The idea of the sport is to carry a woman who weighs at least 49 kilograms through a 253.5-meter obstacle course as quickly as possible.

At best, representatives from 15 different countries have participated in the championship, and wife-carrying differs from sports like boot-throwing or sitting on an anthill in that it’s not a given that the winner will be a Finn. The two most recent victories have gone to Lithuania, and the world record in the sport is held by Estonians. It speaks to the wide interest in the sport that in 2005, basketball superstar Dennis Rodman attended the championships to try it out. He didn’t participate in the actual competition, however, citing health problems.

Although many Finnish summer sports seem as if they were invented while solidly drunk, to freely quote Shakespeare, “there’s always a method in Finnish madness.” Considering the weirdness of the competitions, their rules are surprisingly precise. For example,

Why do PeoPle participate in these strange sports? The most cynical explanation is that since Finns are no longer successful in their old favorite sport, athletics, they’ve been forced to come up with new sports that other countries don’t want to or can’t be bothered to participate in. Perhaps it can be taken as evidence of this that boot-throwing uses the same runway as the javelin, whose globalization has drastically reduced Finland’s chances of success (in the past, the only people who seriously trained in javelin were the Finns and one Norwegian).

Another possible explanation is that it’s simply so boring in the Finnish countryside that people have to come up with something to do. This theory is supported by the fact that the sports described here are specifically rural amusements: tourists in Finland’s largest cities don’t need to dodge flying boots or fear bumping into someone sitting pantless on an anthill in the park.

The reasons are of course also related to economics and image. The competitions are held in small towns, and without the Wife Carrying World Championships, Sonkajärvi (population 3,768) couldn’t dream of holding a summer event that would attract over 3,000 spectators or be featured as a humorous kicker story on TV news and sports programs abroad. The visibility record for Finnish summer sports was probably achieved in 2004, when the Japanese television company Nippon Network made a documentary about the World Sauna Championships, which was seen by a whopping 40 million viewers in Japan alone.

A third explanation is based on Finns’ unique national character, the core of which is the world-famous Finnish sisu (sitting on an anthill is certainly not very hygge). Here’s how journalist Heini Kilpamäki describes it in her book Suomalaisen tyhmyyden ylistys (In praise of Finnish stupidity): “Even today, Finns are portrayed as wild and raw – and what could be better for the image and brand factories? Being wild seems rugged in an otherwise bland world. A slight feeling of danger has always been intriguing.”

Kilpamäki describes stupidity as an unconventional energy that results in new ideas and breaks free from familiar patterns: “Stupidity steps off the trail to find new paths. As the ancient philosopher Heraclitus said, madness is the source of wisdom.” s

Although many Finnish summer sports seem as if they were invented

Saimaa area in a nutshell


Lake Saimaa is the largest lake in Finland – and the fourth largest in the whole Europe. It is not one big lake though, but rather consists of many smaller ones that are interconnected. Roughly measured, Lake Saimaa is 200 kilometres long and 100 kilometres wide. It is one of the most popular summer cottage areas in Finland and has about 25,000 holiday homes.

The best-known and at the same time rarest animal living in the lake is saimaannorppa – the Saimaa ringed seal – which became isolated from other ringed seal populations of the Baltic Sea about 8000 years ago, just after the ice age ended. Sadly, it is a highly endangered species today.

The largest cities in the Saimaa area are Imatra, Lappeenranta, Mikkeli and Savonlinna.
P hoto: v isit s ai M aa 10


Imatra is home to 25,000 people. The main industries are the paper industry and tourism: the city is located right next to the Russian border. Imatra is known for its exceptionally magnificent rapids, which is the oldest tourist attraction in Finland, and for the State Hotel on its shores. Dating back to 1903, the building reminiscent of a fairytale castle is well worth a visit.


Lappeenranta is the 13th biggest city in Finland and has a population of about 72,000. It was founded as early as 1649 and its history can be seen, for example, in the Lappeenranta fortress area, which has many museums, galleries and much more to see. The nearby city harbour is also beautiful and offers access to Saimaa cruises.


The history of Mikkeli, with a population of 52,000, is quite belligerent. The city is mentioned in various peace treaties since the 14th century and has often been involved in war battles. During the last war, the headquarters of Finnish army was there. That is why the city has, among other things, the Headquarters Museum. Mikkeli is also Finland’s second most popular summer cottage location: there are about 10,000 cottages there.


Savonlinna is especially known for its beautiful medieval castle called Olavinlinna, as well as the famous Opera Festival that the castle hosts every summer. The city is home to 32,000 people and its surroundings are full of beautiful sights and landscapes – for example, one of Finland’s national landscapes, Punkaharju, the narrow seven-kilometer-long ridge formed during the ice age. Tsar Nicholas I of Russia fell in love with it so much that in 1843 he ordered the area to be protected. s

The right way to take a sauna

If you spend more than a few days in Finland, odds are you’ll come across a sauna. You’ll find one in almost every house, summer cottage, hotel, and apartment building, and of course at swimming pools and other well-equipped swimming spots.

The sauna is one of the world’s finest inventions, but the concept can be strange at first if you aren’t used to it, and there are many unspoken conventions that apply. Here’s a short guide to sauna etiquette.

Nudity. Yes, people are naked in Finnish saunas, though usually women and men go to sauna separately. There are exceptions, however, and depending on the situation, swimsuits may also be worn – for example, in mixed-gender saunas at ice-hole swimming spots. As a general rule, however, you go to sauna naked, though it’s not as if it’s written into the Finnish constitution. So you won’t wind up in jail if you decide to wear a bathing suit or wrap yourself in a towel. However you go, the most important thing is to enjoy it.

Most swimming halls explicitly forbid swimsuits in the saunas, but if you use a pefletti, it’s hard to see what harm a swimsuit would do. A pefletti is a disposable, single-use bench cover. They are generally available at public saunas for you to use.

P hoto: Mikko n ikkinen / go s ai M aa

Whisking. In the summertime, in particular, it’s traditional to make sauna whisks out of birch branches. The branches are tied into a beautiful bundle. The whisk is kind of like a sponge, or perhaps a medieval torture device, depending on your point of view. The idea is that you use it to beat yourself on different parts of your body – or, perhaps, your benchmate’s back (it’s a good idea to ask permission first). The whisk is softened by soaking it in water, so it not only gets your skin clean, but it makes the sauna smell nice too.

ThroWing Water. In a Finnish sauna, water is thrown on the hot stones of the sauna stove, or heater in case it’s an electric one. The resulting steam momentarily makes the sauna very hot. The hotter, the better. However, if you aren’t alone in the sauna, it’s good to ask the others how much steam they are comfortable with. If the heat is too much for you, you can move to a lower bench. Finnish men are unlikely to do so, however, because it would be a sign of weakness. That kind of attitude is unfortunate and old-fashioned and has even led to deaths.

If the bucket of water is empty and you are about to leave the sauna, it’s polite to fill the bucket and return it to its place.

Cooling off. After taking a sauna – or between turns in the sauna – it’s good to cool oneself off from time to time. So step outside for a moment to cool off. During the winter, you can jump into a snowbank and make snow angels or take a dip in an ice hole – a large opening made in a frozen lake or sea, sometimes large enough to swim in. It’s nicer in the summer, though, when there’s no option to do either of those stupid things, and you can settle for something like a cold drink.

SoCializing. In Finland, going to sauna is often compared to going to church, meaning that taking a sauna is practically a sacred event, during which people are happy to sit quietly. Or at least to show restraint while chatting. On the other hand, Finns may take a sauna as an opportunity to talk, and even to discuss big, important topics. In the sauna, when everyone is naked, even titles and status are left in the dressing room.

Sauna night. It’s a very Finnish tradition: going to sauna somewhere with a group of friends. It often includes having dinner and some drinks. In other words, for Finns, taking a sauna is both intimate and social. While Finns don’t generally talk more than necessary, if you’re naked in the sauna, talking is okay, even with strangers. s

From holes in the ground to apartment buildings

The sauna is not a Finnish invention, but it tells you something about Finns’ sauna madness that there are an estimated 3 million saunas here, in a country of only 5.5 million people. Though perhaps it’s not surprising: up in the northern latitudes, it’s quite a luxury to have a warm place where you can bathe.

The earliest known Finnish saunas are earth pit saunas from the Bronze Age, about 3,000 years ago. However, these saunas probably existed already 10,000 years ago. The idea was simple: stones were heated in a pit, and when they were hot enough, a kind of tent was spread over the pit and a sauna could be taken. Starting in the 6th century, dedicated buildings were constructed for saunas, usually from logs.

Nowadays, there are many types of saunas. The rarest, but perhaps the most valued and atmospheric, is the smoke sauna. A smoke sauna has no chimney at all. Instead, after the big pile of stones has been heated, the smoke is aired out of the sauna. Heating up a smoke sauna takes time and is somewhat dangerous – smoke saunas have burned down often enough. However, the steam in a smoke sauna is uniquely soft, not to mention that smoke saunas are usually beautiful. A small downside is that you usually come out of a smoke sauna a bit dirtier than when you went in, due to all the soot on the walls.

Traditional wood-burning sauna stoves are common, especially in older detached single-family houses: the steam in these saunas is also good and soft, and they can be heated as hot as you like.

Nowadays electric saunas are the most common and easiest to use. They don’t require a chimney and can fit into small spaces, making them suitable for apartment buildings, for example. They’re also effortless, as all you have to do is switch them on. On the other hand, they use a lot of electricity and the steam generally feels quite dry. And they’re not at all as atmospheric as a wood-burning sauna.

Public saunas can be found in all the big cities, so go ahead and give it a try!

P hoto: Mikko n ikkinen / go s ai M aa

Saimaa region

Copyright © Maanmittauslaitos 2022. CC 4.0. PLEASE LEAVE THIS MAGAZINE FOR THE NEXT GUEST – THANK YOU! 7 12 15 16 5 4 8 9 14
ARE HERE! Hotels providing Saimaa Times are marked on the map with numbered red dots. The number of your hotel can be found from the list on page 16. Norway Sweden Estonia Latvia Lithuania Denmark Russia Finland A map in your pocket Download the free Saimaa Times Map App 1 2 6 11 14 17 18 3 10 13 15

Saimaa Times is available in these high standard hotels

01 holiday Club PunkaharJu

Hiekkalahdentie 128, 58430 Kulennoinen

Tel. +358 43 825 4531

02 holiday Club saiMaa

Rauhanrinne 1, 55320 Lappeenranta

Tel. +358 300 870 900

03 hotel hosPitz

Linnankatu 20, 57130 Savonlinna

Tel. +358 15 515 661

04 hotel kartano

Kyyhkyläntie 6, 50700 Mikkeli

Tel. 440 203 320

05 hotel lähde

Ainonkatu 17, 53100 Lappeenranta

Tel. +358 44 766 5005

06 hotel PunkaharJu

Punkaharjun Harjutie 596, 58450 Punkaharju

Tel. +358 15 511 311

07 hotel rakuuna

Mannerheiminkatu 8, 53900 Lappeenranta

Tel. +358 10 340 2040

08 hotel ratsuMies

Kyyhkyläntie 6, 50700 Mikkeli

Tel. 440 203 320

09 hotel rustholli

Kyyhkyläntie 6, 50700 Mikkeli

Tel. 440 203 320

10 hotel saiMa

Linnankatu 11, 57130 Savonlinna

Tel. +358 15 515 340

11 original sokos hotel seurahuone savonlinna

Kauppatori 4-6, 57130 Savonlinna

Tel. +358 10 764 2200

12 original sokos hotel vaakuna Mikkeli

Porrassalmenkatu 9, 50100 Mikkeli

Tel. +358 10 764 2100

13 saiMaaholiday oravi

Kiramontie 27, 58130 Oravi

Tel. +358 44 274 7078

14 sCandiC iMatran valtionhotelli

Torkkelinkatu 2, 55100 Imatra

Tel. +358 30 030 8452

15 sCandiC Mikkeli

Mikonkatu 9, 50100 Mikkeli

Tel. +358 30 030 8456

16 sCandiC Patria

Kauppakatu 21, 53100 Lappeenranta

Tel. +358 30 030 8451

17 sPahotel Casino savonlinna

Kylpylaitoksentie 7, 57130 Savonlinna

Tel. +358 29 320 0540

18 suMMer hotel tott

Satamakatu 1, 57130 Savonlinna

+358 10 764 2250

Ripaus luksusta onnellisten saaren sydämessä Tervetuloa Aino Acktén kantapaikkaan! Avoinna joka päivä! Rehtiä ruokaa ja mutkatonta palvelua Est. 1969 • Wanha Kasino 1896 | Kylpylaitoksentie 7 | YKSI MÄÄRÄNPÄÄ – KAKSI HURMAAVAA RAVINTOLAA & KAUPUNGIN AURINKOISIMMAT TERASSIT 16

M/S LAKE STAR M/S LAKE SEAL Maisema- ja tilausristeilyt

Tunnin maisemaristeilyllä voit nähdä ja kokea Savonlinnan kaunista saaristomaisemaa. Risteilyllä reittiselostus suomeksi, englanniksi, venäjäksi ja saksaksi.

Tickets online or straight from aboard/ship. Route guidance in English, Russian, German.

Lähtöajat 1.6.-31.8.:

M/S Lake Star (1.6.–31.8.) 10:30

M/S Lake Seal (n. 29.6.–12.8.)




15:45 (17:15) (19:30)

Osta liput verkkokaupasta tai

12:00 13:30 15:00 16:30 (18:00)
suoraan laivoilta!
Tiedustelut ja varaukset: Sapha Oy

Putin’s critic

Artist Kaj Stenvall ridicules and criticizes power by painting Putin every day, putting his subject in a wide variety of settings.

The studio floor is littered with dozens of paintings, either drying or just otherwise complete. Most of them depict Russia’s dictator, Vladimir Putin, but Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, former president of the United States Donald Trump, and even a few Finnish politicians make their appearances. But by and large, the paintings are of Putin. He sits in The Hague looking miserable, stares in a mirror and Hitler looks back, is hiding in a toilet bowl. And so on.

Although you might imagine otherwise, Stenvall didn’t start painting Putin after last year’s invasion of Ukraine. He actually started much earlier, the last time Putin attacked Ukraine in 2014, when the world hadn’t yet taken much notice.

“Actually, it started with the Olympics in Sochi. I watched it on TV and saw how Putin was strutting around among the athletes there. Even before that, he had appeared shirtless in public and built up his macho image, but that was when I really started paying attention to it. It was just too much. A little while later, Crimea was annexed, which was the last straw and got me to start making these. It was a concrete sign of Putin’s agenda, which was not staying inside his own country,” Stenvall explains.

P hoto: r oo P e l i P asti Kaj Stenvall. 18

A villain and a hero

The explicitly political paintings were also a counterweight to what Stenvall had been doing for the last 30 years or so. He is famous for his duck paintings, which feature humanoid ducks in all kinds of situations. Often, they are pastiches of famous paintings, with the main character replaced by a duck. Stenvall’s duck paintings have been extremely popular, which has given Stenvall the financial leeway to paint Putins – because there can’t be too many people who want one on their living room wall, can there?

“It’s hard to say. There have been a lot of inquiries, but I don’t know if it’s a question of putting them on display or an investment. In any case, I haven’t sold them. Well, I did sell two: one to a member of parliament in Berlin and the other to a member of parliament in Prague. But the idea is to keep the collection together and expand it, so that at some point I can have a bigger exhibition.”

Actually, there is also one painting in Ukraine: a year ago at midsummer, a young Ukrainian celebrity died on the front and became something of a national hero, so Stenvall made a painting of him. The painting was supposed to be sold at auction, with the money donated to Ukraine, but in the end, the painting went to Ukraine along with the Finnish foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto

“It was a show of sympathy for the Ukrainian people. I have also done paintings of Zelensky. It’s kind of nice to paint heroes, too, and not always just villains. On the whole, this is a mission, something important. And because I am able to do it, I feel that it’s also a kind of duty. At the same time, it’s a way to unload my own anxieties about the war, through critique and ridicule.”

Back to the underground

In fact, painting Putin – or other powerful people – is ironically not so terribly far from Stenvall’s duck-themed paintings. Through the ducks, Stenvall was able to explore different aspects of humanity, and a similar thing is going on with the Putins and the others, though the war soon brought its tragic addition to the mix.

Politics itself is not a new thing for Stenvall and his generation: Originally from Tampere, Stenvall was born in 1951 and started studying art in Turku in 1971. It was still the time of the underground movement, and all kinds of politicization – including of art – continued throughout the ’70s.

“The underground was one of the reasons I came to Turku. It combined different kinds of elements, including from real life, and there was always a message or a point, and that’s actually what I’ve come back to now. I’m interested in how people experience their position, the fact that they have power. I’m trying to get to the person there, deep inside. For example, the painting of Lavrov is based on a news photo in which he was criticizing the West with a Western watch and cellphone in his hand. I put him in a hoodie, so he would look like a rapper. In the painting, his face reflects sheer helplessness, the fact that he is completely lost.”

From the media to media art

According to Stenvall, the response to his Putin paintings has been largely bewildered.

“When I put the first images on Twitter in 2014, I got a few comments, but people from Finland in particular were confused and somehow afraid of the issue. Finlandization was quite strong even then. One art critic’s column ran under the headline ‘Does it make sense or not?’ quoting a song by the ’70s Finnish rock group Sleepy Sleepers. The message was that maybe I shouldn’t make paintings like these because it’s dangerous to mock the leader of a neighboring country.”

Dangerous or not, it’s clear that Stenvall is making internet art, or, more broadly, media art: Stenvall pulls material from the media, refines it, and puts it back into the media. The image that goes out is always different from when it came to him:

“The pieces themselves are quite small, so I can do them quickly. Online, it makes no difference what size the original is. The idea is to be able to comment on things practically in real time.”

Stenvall’s pace and work ethic are formidable. In the morning, he takes his kid to school – the trip serves as a kind of commute –before returning to his home studio to start painting. At that point, it’s nine o’clock. By the afternoon, the painting will be ready to be photographed and put online.

“Spontaneity is the thing, getting it done all at once. It’s three and a half hours of really intense pressure, and afterwards my head is spinning. Developing the subject matter is a big and time-consuming part because I want each painting to be different and to have a specific point. I’ve done maybe 130 or 140 of these, so quite a lot of angles have already been used.” s

See more paintings at:
Here is still room, 2022, oil on board.
I Have a Dream and a Vision (detail), 2022, oil on board. MC Sergei (detail), 2022, oil on board.

kertoo 1940-41 ja 1944 tapahtuneesta itäisen maarajan linnoittamisesta ja Salpalinjasta, joka lähtee Virolahdelta. Museoon kuuluvat sisänäyttely ja ulkoalueen linnoituskohteet, tykkipuisto sekä Hyvän Mielen Polku!

Luontopolut ja retkeilyreitit

• Tuntemattoman Polku (4,5 km)

• Erämaan Polku (4,3 km)

• Salpapolku (43 km)

• Avoinna 1.6.-31.8. joka päivä klo 10-18 •

• Touko- ja syyskuussa pe klo 10-18, la klo 10-16 •

• Vaalimaantie 1318, 49960 Ala-Pihlaja •

What if it had been you

Muisti Centre of War and Peace shares experiences of war to promote peace

Muisti Centre of War and Peace is a modern museum which examines the effects of war from the perspective of human experience. The interactive exhibition at Muisti enables you to understand what Second World War felt like for those who were confronted by it, how it affected society at the time and how it still affects it today. At Muisti you will discover the story of Finland and Finnish people at war, how it ties into the European and international context.

Muisti opened to public in June 2021 and is located in Mikkeli, the town in which the Finnish military headquarters was based during the Second World War. The old school building that formed the base of the headquarters has been transformed to over 1000 m2 of exhibition space. The Headquarters Museum has been in this building since 1974. Muisti Centre of War and Peace uses modern technology and audio-visual tools to bring to life the reality of warfare, and the Headquarters museum with its war time ambience transports to the time when Commander- in-Chief Marshall Mannerheim held his office in the building.

P hoto: sa -kuva
researCher and anna-Maija hunter, CustoMer serviCe Muisti Centre of War and peaCe
Those who lived through the Second World War were everyday people like any one of us. Could you have anticipated what would happen next?

How do people experience war? What does killing feel like? What did women and children do during the war? Muisti offers an interactive museum visit, where you are invited to walk in the shoes of those who experienced the war. See how war was transformed into peace and remembrance, and what has been done to ensure lasting peace. Step in front of the screens and immerse yourself into the time of war. What if it had been you?

Why is it important to find answers to these questions? The 1900s was a century marked by two world wars. The Second World War was the most destructive war in history. Its effects are still felt in the cultural heritage of Finland and the world, as well as in the memories of every community and individual. The exhibition at Muisti brings the experience of war close to the visitor, so you can closely relate to those who lived through it. This historical empathy, understanding causes and effects and seeing the bigger picture help us relate to each other better and support us in making decisions today.

Finland at war

Finland's role in the Second World War was small by global standards, but it had a significant impact on the Finnish people. Small countries have very little means of influencing the key moments and final results of major wars. They often have to focus on fighting for their own existence and place on the world map.

Finland’s role in the Second World War has been divided into three parts: The Winter War (30 November 1939 – 13 March 1940), The Continuation War (25 June 1941 – 19 September 1944) and Lapland War (15 September 1944 – 27 April 1945). In The Winter War the

objective of the Soviet Union was to invade Finland. However, the Soviet Union failed despite its military superiority. At the beginning of the war, the Soviet Red Army lacked efficient leadership. In addition, the winter was exceptionally cold, which suited the Finnish army better than the Soviet forces. Moreover, the so-called spirit of the Winter War, meaning that the people came together to defend themselves against a common enemy, also helped the Finns to delay Stalin's invasion plans. In the end, the Soviet superiority was too crushing, and Finland was forced to sign a peace treaty and lost about 10 % of its land area.

Finland feared that the Soviet Union would soon launch another attack. As the war progressed in Europe, Finland had no choice but to ally with Germany. When Germany attacked the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, Finland was involved. At best there were up to 250,000 German soldiers and other personnel in Lapland and elsewhere in Finland. This war is known as the Continuation War, because from the Finnish perspective it was a continuation of the Winter War. The objective was to win back the areas lost at The Winter War. Old borders were reached fast. If not before, then Finland certainly became an enemy of the Allies when the Finnish leaders decided in late July 1941 to cross the pre-Winter War borders. In 1943, as the German defeat seemed more and more likely, The Finnish wartime leaders considered it necessary to prepare for separate peace with the Soviet Union. Finland agreed to armistice after the Soviet Union had launched major attacks in autumn 1944. According to the interim peace treaty, Finland switched sides in the war and agreed to drive the Germans residing in Lapland out of the country. The Lapland War ended in April 1945.

As a result of World War II, many countries lost their independence. United Kingdom and Finland were the only non-occupied democratic WWII belligerents that maintained their independence and remained non-occupied during the war. In the end Finland lost large land areas

“Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it”
P hoto: Pihla l iukkonen
By the means of modern technology you can immerse yourself into the time of war during your visit to Muisti.

in Karelia and northern Finland. 430,000 Finns lost their homes and had to be reinhabited in elsewhere in Finland.

Finland's role in the Second World War carries different meanings depending on who is examining and interpreting the matter. For the Finns, it has meant fighting against a superior enemy and, in spite of losses, maintaining independence. Then again, a Russian, German or even Chinese interpretation of Finland's role would undoubtedly be different. Furthermore, the interpretation is not necessarily linked to nationality, but rather to the background, values and knowledge of the person in question.


The Finnish word Muisti means memory and remembrance. Nearly 80 years have passed since the end of the Second World War. Still, the war is ever present. War is transformed into remembrance on a personal, cultural and national level.

Different countries commemorate the World War in different ways. The view can vary depending on the country’s position at the end of the war. All countries remember the victims of war and celebrate memorial days, they all respect people who defended their own country, they all emphasise the atrocities they faced and their efforts for a good cause. Germany has been left alone to carry the burden of a guilty party. Are there, however, any countries that

participated in the war and did not commit acts of cruelty? Admitting such deeds is hard, but more common as a result of new research on military history.

The Finnish way of remembering the war is epitomised in the Independence Day. We were on the losers’ side, yet we celebrate like the winners. During the Cold War the goal was to be neutral between the two big ideologies. This affected the public remembrance of war. The collapse of the Soviet Union made it possible to openly remember the war. In the 2000s, the veterans and the war generation have become honorary citizens.

Throughout history, the winners have tried to silence the losers, men have tried to silence women, and young people their parents. History has been politicised alternately from the extreme left and extreme right. However, there is not one single memory of the war, nor a single experience of the war. Through war, we consider difficult topics about right and wrong and the cracks in our self-image. In the chain of generations, the war still comes close to us all.

The exhibition at Muisti Centre of War and Peace offers a voice to these previously silenced stories and difficult memories. The objective is to offer varied experiences of war based on the most recent humanistic studies. What was it like to be a soldier on the frontline, a young woman being displaced by war, a politician, a pacifist or a child? Every experience is equally valuable. By understanding the experience of a real historical person, you can feel empathy towards them and learn how to relate better to people today. s


Ristimäenkatu 4, Mikkeli


June 4th-August 31st

Daily 10am-5pm

September 1st-June 3rd

Monday-Saturday 10am – 5pm

Sunday closed

Ticket sale closed at 4.30pm


Adults €18.00

Pensioners €16.00

Children 12-17 years €12.00

Under 12 years old free of charge

P hoto: Mikkeli City Museu M s.
P hoto: Mikkeli City Museu
The environment surrounding Muisti has changed very little since it was used by the Headquarters during the Second World War.


Clean sheets and bullfights

When I had a child, my relationship with hotels changed. What used to be merely a necessity for business trips became instead a luxury. Clean white sheets without crayon stains, on a bed someone else has made, in a room someone else has cleaned and drinking coffee while it’s still hot was my idea of paradise. How wonderful to sleep uninterrupted, without a little person climbing into bed beside me at three in the morning. Not to mention the shower, where I could stay as long as I wanted without anyone banging on the door, shouting “Mom, mom, mom!”

Before I had a child, I had thought the word “mom” from the mouth of a small child might be the most beautiful word in the world. Nowadays, I think it might also be the most irritating.

For the first three years of my child’s life, I parented entirely on my own. In practice, it meant that I was never alone. After having a baby, I didn’t particularly miss parties, or Pilates classes, or being able to wear earrings or pants that didn’t have elastic waistbands. I missed being able to occasionally sit on the sofa and read an entire magazine, from start to finish. I had friends who had babies at the same time as me. When they wanted to stop nursing, they got a hotel room in town and left their children with their fathers to wean. I don’t think I have ever been more jealous of my friends in my life. My own first night alone in a hotel was still years in the future, which made it all the more wonderful. I will never forget the dear hotel in Pori where I slept eight blessed hours for the first time in years!

For me, the most important thing in hotels has always been the breakfast. I always say that my sister has such a good memory that, even years later, she can remember every detail about the things that are important to her. For my sister, desserts are especially important. She can remember every single lemon meringue pie she has ever eaten, and where she ate it. I’m not as talented. I only remember good breakfasts. I remember how the hotel in Puerto Vallarta had its own breakfast tortilla chef, from whom you could order what you wanted. Mexicans are breakfast people in general. They say a Mexican eats like a king in the morning, a prince at lunch, and a beggar at dinner. I made a habit of eating mostly huevos rancheros, “ranch-style eggs,” for breakfast, which were cooked in a spicy tomato sauce and eaten with tortillas.

There was a breakfast chef in Beijing, too. There you could order your own breakfast noodles and smoothies. But the best breakfast of all was in Vaasa. My daughter was very small then, and when I traveled to literature festivals, I took both her and my mother with me. I have a photo of me nursing her between talks. What I remember best, however, was how I got to make myself a waffle, topped with homemade cloudberry jam. Perhaps the most beautiful thing you can say to a breastfeeding woman is: “Your waffle is ready.”

If you’re lucky, you might also have the chance to get to know some very interesting people in hotels. I once played cards with a Russian spy and a Japanese soldier in Kyrgyzstan. But perhaps the most exciting person I’ve met was Father Armando, the headmaster of a Catholic school where I had given a talk. After the literature festival, the locals took us to eat at the hotel’s restaurant. The restaurant was famous for its gigantic steaks, which was slightly problematic because I was a vegetarian. Father Armando had just organized a fundraising event for his school, a boxing match with ticket revenue benefiting the school. To raise additional funds, Father Armando had participated in the boxing himself. His black eye hadn’t completely healed yet. But things had apparently gone better than the previous year, when Father Armando had organized a bullfight. The bull had punctured Father Armando’s lung. What wouldn’t a man or a priest do for his school!

The older I get, the more I understand writers who want to live permanently in a hotel. s

r äsänen / o
P hoto: e nvato SAIMAA TIMES
Leena Parkkinen is an author, who loves crisp sheets and breakfast. She is also an award-winning writer, whose books have been published in twelve countries and is loved by both readers and critics. Photo: Jonne
Written by leena parkkinen translated by Christina saarinen



Varmista näkyvyytesi: Puh. 045 656 7216 | Puh. 040 507 1002


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Sunday: 10.00–16.00

Saturday: 10.00–15.00

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www rautjarvi fi | Simpeleentie 12, 56800 Simpele Harmaakalliontie 5, 55300 Rauha
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