Mauno Koivisto’s classic book on Russia due for first publication in English


Koivisto’s book will be published in October 2023 as The Russian Idea, translated from the Finnish original by Timothy Binham. The book has been published previously in Swedish, Estonian and Russian translation.

The initiative for the translation project came from Erkki Liikanen, former Governor of the Bank of Finland. During his career in politics and in the civil service, Liikanen worked with Koivisto on numerous occasions and acquired a keen understanding of Koivisto’s way of thinking.

“These days, Finnish people abroad are always being asked ‘What do you think of Russia? Your countries share such a long common border and history’,” Erkki Liikanen says. He feels that Koivisto’s The Russian Idea is in a class of its own as an answer to this question. “The book has stood the test of time. That’s why it’s so important to publish it in English,” Liikanen says.

Koivisto’s family members – his widow Tellervo Koivisto and his daughter Assi Koivisto – are flattered by the international attention attracted by the book.

“It means a great deal to us that the book has proved so long-lived; it actually seems timelier than ever in today’s world. We are very pleased that the book will become available to international readers in English,” Tellervo and Assi Koivisto say.

The Russian Idea combines a review of the country’s political history with an introduction to the Russian history of ideas. The Orthodox religion, Pan-Slavism and Socialism are the keystones of Russia’s intellectual heritage. In his book, Koivisto sets out to explore how Russian thinking is reflected in historical events and to predict its influence on the country’s future choices.

Mauno Koivisto (1923–2017) served as President of the Republic of Finland for two consecutive terms, from 1982 to 1994. Before that, he served as Prime Minister from 1968 to 1970 and again from 1979 to 1982. Koivisto started studying Russian early in the 1950s, and Russian studies remained a lifelong interest. His first term as Prime Minister coincided with the crisis following the invasion and occupation of Czechoslovakia, and during his second presidential term he witnessed the disintegration of the Soviet Union first hand.

The book is being published by Tammi, which is part of the Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö publishing house.