Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic


(Karelia), a part of the RSFSR. The Karelian Workers’ Commune, an autonomous oblast association, was formed on June 8, 1920, becoming the Karelian ASSR on July 25, 1923. The republic is bounded by the White Sea on the east, by Lakes Ladoga and Onega on the south, and by Finland on the west. Area, 172, 400 sq km. Population, 715, 000 (1972). Karelia has 15 raions, 12 cities, and 40 urban-type settlements. The capital is Petrozavodsk.

Constitution and government The Karelian ASSR is a socialist workers’ and peasants’ state and an autonomous Soviet socialist republic. The present constitution was adopted by the Eleventh Extraordinary All-Karelian Congress of Soviets on June 17, 1937. The highest organs of state power are the unicameral Supreme Soviet of the Karelian ASSR, elected for a four-year term on the basis of one deputy for every 5, 000 inhabitants, and the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. The Supreme Soviet forms the Council of Ministers of Karelia, the government of the republic. The Karelian ASSR is represented by 11 deputies in the Soviet of Nationalities of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Local government bodies are the city, raion, settlement, and village Soviets of workers’ deputies, elected by the people for two-year terms.

The Supreme Soviet of Karelia elects for a five-year term the Supreme Court of the republic, comprising two divisions, one for criminal and one for civil cases, and the Presidium of the Supreme Court. The procurator of the Karelian ASSR is appointed by the procurator general of the USSR for a five-year term.

Natural features. The republic is situated in the northwestern European USSR, in the eastern part of the Baltic Shield. Its surface forms a hilly plain with strong traces of glacial activity, including moraine ridges, eskers, kames, and lacustrine basins. The highest areas are in the west and northwest, the Mansel’kia Range with elevations of up to 578 m and the West Karelian Hills with elevations of up to 417 m. The main depressions, the Pribelomorskaia, Olonets, and Vodla, are found in the regions adjoining the sea and the lakes. The coastline of the White Sea (the Pomor’e and Karelian coasts) has many inlets and bays. The chief mineral resources include various types of building stone (granite, diabase, quartzite, dolomite, and marble) and pegmatites. There are also deposits of iron ore (ferruginous quartzite at the Kostomukshskii deposit and titanomagnetites at the Pu-dozhgorskii deposits) and mica.

The climate combines continental and maritime features, with long, comparatively mild winters, cool summers, a high relative humidity, and a small temperature range. The average temperature in July, the warmest month, ranges from 14° to 16°C; during the coldest month, February, it ranges from —9° to — 13°C. Annual precipitation averages 600 mm in the southwest and 400–500 mm in the north, with most occurring during the warm season. There is a growing season of as many as 125 days in the south and 70 days in the north. Karelia is a region of lakes, rivers, and swamps. The rivers, belonging to the basins of the White and Baltic seas, are relatively short but have large water discharge and many rapids and waterfalls. Of the largest rivers, the Kern’, Vyg, and Keret’ empty into the White Sea, and the Vodla, Suna, and Shuia flow into Lake Onega. Rivers are used for hydroelectric power and for floating timber; only the lower reaches of certain rivers are navigable. Lakes occupy 18 percent of the area; the greatest number lie in the north. The largest lakes, besides Ladoga and Onega, are Vygozero, Topozero, Piaozero, and Segozero. The lakes are often connected by rivers.

The main soil types are podzolic, podzolic-bog, and bog. Forests cover about half of Karelia’s total area. Available timber reserves total more than 600 million cu m, of which 58 percent are pine, 38 percent spruce, and 4 percent leafy varieties (Karelian birch, alder, and asp). A substantial portion of the forests require land reclamation. Swamps, covering about 18 percent of the total area, contain more than 4 billion tons of peat. Animal life is represented by the blue hare, European beaver, muskrat (acclimatized), brown bear, caribou, and elk. Both marine and fresh-water fish are commercially important, including navaga, herring, cod, flounder, Atlantic and other kinds of salmon, trout, and many common varieties. The Greenland seal is also commercially valuable. The Kivach Preserve is located in Karelia.

Population. The indigenous people of the region are the Karelians, numbering 84, 000 persons in 1970. Other nationalities include (1970 census) Russians (486, 000), Byelorussians (66, 000), Ukrainians (27, 000), Finns (22, 000), and Veps (6, 000). In 1913 the population was 223, 000; in 1926, 261,000; in 1939, 469, 000; and in 1959, 651,000. Average population density is 4.1 per sq km (1972). The southern raions are most densely settled. The proportion of the population living in cities increased from 13 percent in 1913 to 71 percent in 1972. The major cities are Petrozavodsk, Sortavala, Kern’, and several that arose during the Soviet period—Kondopoga, Medvezh’egorsk, Belomorsk, and Segezha.

Historical survey. The oldest traces of human habitation on the territory of present-day Karelia date from about the sixth millennium b.C. Rock drawings indicate that the main occupations during the third and second millennia b.C. were fishing and hunting. About 500 b.C. the inhabitants began to produce iron implements and engage in livestock raising and farming. By the end of the first millennium a.d. the Karelian Isthmus and the northern Ladoga region were settled by Karelians. Veps inhabited the area between Lakes Ladoga and Onega, and further to the north lived the Lapps. At the beginning of the second millennium a.d. some Karelians moved toward the shores of the Gulf of Bothnia and the White Sea. At the same time, Slavs entered the northern and eastern Onega region and the coastal area of the White Sea, contributing to the development of farming, salt-making, and fishing. Between the ninth and the early 12th centuries, Karelia was part of Kievan Rus’, and from the 12th century, with the disintegration of Kievan Rus’, it was subject to Novgorod. The transition from primitive communal relations to feudal relations occurred between the 12th and 15th centuries. The Karelian nationality also emerged at this time. The tribal, and from the 12th and 13th centuries, administrative center of Karelia was the town of Korela (Priozersk).

In the 13th century the Swedes captured part of Karelia and built the fortress of Vyborg (1293). The Karelians living around Vyborg and on the island of Saimaa were cut off from the main part of Karelia, which along with the Novgorod lands became part of the Russian state in 1478. Nearly all the peasants in Karelia became state peasants; some were attached to monasteries. The incursions of the Swedish aggressors intensified in the late 16th century and the early 17th. By the Treaty of Stolbovo (1617), Russia was forced to relinquish the Karelian Isthmus to Sweden, which resulted in the flight of many Karelians to the Russian state. Olonets became the administrative and commercial center of Karelia. Ironworking developed among the peasantry, whose products were sold at the Tikhvin market. During the Northern War (1700–21), the Olonets metallurgical works supplied the Russian Army and Navy with cannons. The Karelian Isthmus was returned to Russia by the Treaty of Nys-tadt (1721). In the 18th century much of Karelia became part of St. Petersburg Province and later of Novgorod Province. Olonets Province, formed in 1784 (capital, Petrozavodsk), was abolished in 1796 and reestablished in 1801. The rest of Karelia was incorporated into Vyborg and Arkhangel’sk provinces. During the 18th century, the antifeudal struggle of the peasants became particularly evident in the Kizhi Uprising (1769–71).

Capitalist relations developed in Karelia from the second half of the 18th century. More hired labor was used in private water-powered sawmills, and migratory labor and commerce increased. After the abolition of serfdom in 1861, sawmills using steam engines were built. The number of industrial and seasonal workers increased, and lumbering and the floating of timber down rivers expanded. Steam navigation was introduced on Lake Onega and the White Sea. On the whole, however, Karelia remained one of the backward national borderlands of Russia. Of the 215, 000 persons living in Karelia (1897 census), industrial workers by the early 20th century totaled about 3, 000. During the Revolution of 1905–07 the strike movement spread to the workers of Petrozavodsk and the sawmills of the White Sea region. In the spring of 1906 a Social Democratic group arose in Petrozavodsk, and in 1907 the Committee of the RSDLP was formed. The Murmansk Railroad was built across Karelia in 1914–16. Karelia’s economic and cultural ties with Petrograd and other Russian cities were strengthened. After the February Revolution (1917), in addition to organs of the Provisional Government, Soviets were also organized in Karelia. On June 22 (July 5) the Olonets provincial soviet of workers’, peasants’, and soldiers’ deputies was formed.

Soviet power was established in Karelia between November 1917 and April 1918. In November, the Soviets in Soroka, Sum-posad, Engozero, and Popov Island assumed power. On Jan. 4 (17), 1918, Soviet power triumphed in Petrozavodsk and later that month in Olonets, Pudozh, and Povenets; in March Soviet rule was established in Kern’. Northern Karelia was captured by interventionists in the spring and summer of 1918; White Finns occupied several border districts, and Anglo-Franco-American forces held the Pomor’e. Early in 1919 the interventionists undertook an offensive to support General Iudenich in his campaign against Petrograd. In battles at Olonets (May), Petrozavodsk and Vidlitsa (June), Lizhma (September), and other points, Red Army units, sailors of the Onega flotilla, and workers’ detachments defeated the aggressors, driving them out of southern Karelia in the fall of 1919. In February and March 1920 the Red Army liberated all of Karelia.

On June 8, 1920, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee adopted a decree forming an autonomous oblast, the Karelian Workers’ Commune, out of the parts of Olonets and Arkhangel’sk provinces that were inhabited by Karelians. The first All-Karelian Congress of Soviets was held in February 1921. On April 26 the Council of Peoples’ Commissars, under the chairmanship of V. I. Lenin, adopted a resolution outlining the direction of economic development in the Karelian Workers’ Commune and granting it aid. The Karelian oblast committee of the RCP (Bolshevik) was formed in September 1921. The rebuilding of the economy was interrupted in late 1921 by the White Finn intervention. After the expulsion of the interventionists, the Karelian Workers’ Commune was renamed the Karelian ASSR by the July 25, 1923, resolution of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee.

The reconstruction of the economy was essentially completed by late 1925. The prewar five-year plans promoted the industrialization of Karelia, aided both by the neighboring oblasts of the RSFSR and by other Union republics. Lumbering increased, and sawmills were modernized. New industries developed, including paper and pulp, furniture, and mining. Paper and pulp combines were built in Kondopoga (1929) and Segezha (1938). The mining of pegmatite and mica began on the White Sea coast. The White Sea-Baltic Canal was put into operation in 1933. By the end of the Second Five-year Plan, collectivization was almost completed. In June 1937 the Eleventh Congress of Soviets of Karelia adopted the republic’s constitution, which consolidated in law the achievements of socialism. A cultural revolution occurred. National cadres emerged in all branches of the economy, a Karelian intelligentsia evolved, and national literature and art flourished. After the Soviet-Finnish War (1939–40), the Karelian ASSR was reorganized as the Karelian-Finnish SSR on Mar. 31, 1940.

Much of Karelia was occupied by fascist German and White Finn forces during the Great Patriotic War (1941–45). More than 100, 000 inhabitants of Karelia fought in the ranks of the Soviet Army and in partisan detachments. The troops of the Karelian Front took the offensive on June 21, 1944, liberating Petrozovodsk on June 28. By the end of July, Soviet troops had reached the border between the USSR and Finland. Thousands of Karelians received government awards for their heroism at the front and self-sacrificing labor in the rear; 26 persons were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union. The war inflicted great losses on Karelia’s economy and culture. About 200 enterprises, schools, and clubs were destroyed. By 1950, the economy had been reconstructed and was developing at a rapid rate. Between 1943 and 1972, 33 persons were awarded the title Hero of Socialist Labor, and between 1957 and 1972 alone, 6, 528 persons were awarded orders and medals of the USSR.

On June 16, 1956, the Karelian-Finnish SSR was renamed the Karelian ASSR. In 1965, Karelia received the Order of Lenin for its achievements in economic and cultural development, and in 1970, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the republic, it was awarded the Order of the October Revolution. On Dec. 29, 1972, the Order of Friendship of Peoples was bestowed on Karelia in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the USSR.


Economy. Karelia is a rapidly developing industrial and agricultural autonomous republic, with more than 250 industrial enterprises. In 1971 the gross output of large-scale industry was 66 times greater than in 1913, and the total industrial output in 1971 was 261 times that of 1920. The leading branches of industry are lumbering (20 percent of the gross industrial output in 1971), wood working (15 percent), paper and pulp milling (18 percent), machine building and metalworking (14 percent), building materials production (7 percent), fishing (5 percent), and electric energy production (2 percent). Data on the output of the major industrial products is given in Table 1.

The hydroelectric power plants built during the Soviet period on the Suna, Vyg, Kern’, and other rivers provide most of Karelia’s energy. The total capacity of electric power plants increased 921 times over between 1913 and 1971, and electric energy production increased 1, 712 times over during that period. Hydroelectric power plants produce 77 percent of the energy.

Karelia accounts for about 5 percent of the lumber exported by the Soviet Union. Mechanized logging and timber distribution establishments have been built, mainly in the forests of southern Karelia. The center of the lumbering industry is shifting to the western and northern regions. Under the Ninth Five-year Plan (1971–75), much attention was devoted to the all-around utilization of timber. The wood-products industry includes sawmilling and the production of building components, furniture, skis, plywood, and wood-fiber board (at Petrozavodsk, Belomorsk, Medvezh’egorsk, Letnerechenskii, Segezha, and Lakhdenpokh’ia). The paper and pulp industry is well developed, with combines at Kondopoga and Segezha. The Karelian ASSR produces 11 percent of the Soviet Union’s pulp, about 16 percent of its paper, and 49 percent of its paper bags. The metalworking, machine-building, and metallurgical industries are expanding. The metallurgical plant in Viartsilia produces various articles from metal shipped to Karelia from other regions. The Onega Tractor Plant in Petrozavodsk, which has been completely renovated, specializes in the production of tractors for timber hauling. There are shipyards (Pindushi and Petrozavodsk) and several ship repair and motor-vehicle repair enterprises. The Tiazhbummash, a large plant producing paper-making machines, is located in Petrozavodsk; its first assembly line was put into operation in 1964. The Nadvoitsy Aluminum Plant, using alumina shipped from Leningrad Oblast, has been in operation since 1954. The extraction of building material is best developed in the Onega area. Pegmatite is mined near Chupa and Pitkiaranta, and mica-muscovite, in Loukhi Raion. Fishing, an important branch of the food industry, is carried out primarily in the White Sea and North Atlantic. Commercial fish breeding is developing.

AGRICULTURE. The main branches of agriculture are dairy farming, the production of potatoes and other vegetables, poultry breeding, and fur farming. Agricultural land occupies less than 1.5 percent of Karelia’s total area, and more than three-fifths of this land is used for hayfields and pasture. In 1972 there were 56 sovkhozes in Karelia (livestock raising for meat and milk, poultry breeding, and fur farming) and 11 fishing kolkhozes. About two-thirds of the sown area is reclaimed land. Crop cultivation is oriented mainly toward the production of feed for livestock. Feed crops occupy 84 percent of the republic’s sown land, and about 15 percent of the cultivated area is sown to potatoes and other vegetables, chiefly cabbage. There are small plantings of cereals, primarily rye, oats, and barley.

In 1972 livestock numbered 86, 000 cattle, 52, 000 pigs, and 67, 000 sheep and goats. Animal products in 1972 included 13, -900 tons of meat (dressed weight), compared to 5, 500 tons in 1940, and 132, 600 tons of milk, as against 45, 700 tons in 1940.

Karelia has 20 fur-farming sovkhozes, producing about one-sixth of all furs (mink and blue fox) supplied by sovkhozes in the RSFSR.

TRANSPORTATION. In 1971 there were more than 2, 000 km of railroads (700 in 1923). The Petrozavodsk-Suoiarvi, Suoiarvi-Iushkozero, Loukhi-Sofporog, and Belomorsk-Obozerskaia lines have been built during the Soviet period. There is navigation on Lakes Ladoga and Onega and the White Sea-Baltic Canal. There are 28, 000 km of timber-floating routes. Petrozavodsk is linked by air routes with Leningrad, Arkhangel’sk, Moscow, and remote areas of the republic.

REGIONAL VARIATIONS. More than 70 percent of the population lives in southern karelia, which is also the main industrial and agricultural region, accounting for half the industrial output, three-fourths of the farmland and livestock, and 90 percent of the crops. The most important industrial centers are Petrozavodsk, producing one-fourth of Karelia’s industrial output, Kondopoga, Sortavala, Suoiarvi, and Medvezh’egorsk. About one-sixth of the population inhabits central Karelia, which accounts for about 30 percent of the industrial output. The main industrial centers here are segezha, belomorsk, and nadvoitsy. Northern Karelia has one-tenth of the population, and its chief industries are forestry and the extraction of mica. Developmental plans include the working of the kostomuksh-skii deposits of ferruginous quartzite. There is also reindeer breeding and fur farming. The industrial centers of northern karelia are kem’, keret’, and chupa. D. M. PINKHENSON

STANDARD OF LIVING. The material well-being and cultural level of the population have risen sharply as a result of achievements in economic development. Nearly two-thirds of the republic’s budget is allocated for social and cultural programs. In 1971 the turnover in retail goods was about five times greater than in 1940. State and cooperative enterprises and organizations, kolkhozes, and private individuals made available 270, 000 sq m of living space in 1971. The population’s social security and pension funds have increased.

Public health. In 1920 there were 19 hospitals with 730 beds, ten outpatient clinics, and 82 feldsher and midwife stations, served by 31 doctors and 174 intermediate medical personnel. Public health services have developed substantially in the Soviet period. As of Jan. 1, 1972, the republic had 116 hospitals with

Table 1. Output of major industrial products
Electric power (kW-hr)......1 78,000,000347,000,0001,130,000,0002,569,000,000
Export of commercial lumber (compact
cu m).....
Sawn timber (cu m).....1,000,000800,0002,700,0003,100,000
Plywood (cu m)...... 3,7006,40023,10031,100
Pulp (tons)..... 35,00088,000224,000533,000
Paper (tons)...... 48,000121,000256,000708,000
Cardboard (tons)..... 13,10018,70034,600
Catch of fish and marine animals (tons)..... 8,000 11,30039,00072,000
Canned goods (standard containers).. 118,000860,0004,093,00010,073,000

10, 200 beds (14.3 per 1,000 inhabitants), 142 outpatient facilities and polyclinics, 74 women’s consultations (gynecological outpatient clinics), and 211 nurseries with facilities for nearly 10, 000 children. Medical care is provided by 2, 100 doctors (one for every 345 inhabitants) and more than 8, 000 intermediate medical personnel. Doctors are trained at the medical department of the University of Petrozavodsk. There are health resorts at Med-vezh’ia Gora, Martsial’nye Vody, and Sortavala. The republic has sanatoriums and houses of rest.

Tourism. Karelia’s natural beauty and historical sites have made it a major tourist center. Especially interesting are Kondopoga, the site of the 18th-century Uspenskaia Church, Kem’ with its 18th-century Uspenskii Cathedral, and the Kizhi Museum Site. Cruises have been organized on Lake Ladoga and the White Sea-Baltic Canal, and boating is popular on the numerous lakes and rivers. In 1971 there were five tourist centers and 40 hunting and fishing lodges. In 1972 the republic was visited by more than 300, 000 tourists, including more than 2, 500 from 25 foreign countries.

Education and cultural affairs. Prior to the October Revolution the area of the present-day republic had 444 schools, predominantly elementary, with 16, 000 students. There were no higher educational institutions. In the 1971–72 academic year, there were 142, 500 students in 560 general schools of all types, 16, 500 students in 17 special secondary schools, and 10, 600 students in 26 vocational and technical schools. Karelia’s two higher educational institutions—the University of Petrozavodsk and the pedagogical institute—and the Petrozavodsk branch of the Rimsky-Korsakov Leningrad State Conservatory had a total enrollment of 9, 700 students. In 1971, 42, 700 children attended 582 preschool institutions.

On Jan. 1, 1972, there were 524 public libraries, with 7, 300, 000 copies of books and journals, and 502 clubs. Museums include the Karelian State Museum of Local Lore in Petrozavodsk and its branches (the Martsial’nye Vody and White Sea Petroglyphs Museums), the Olonets Raion Museum of Local Lore, the Kizhi Museum Site of History and Architecture, the Museum of Fine Arts of the Karelian ASSR in Petrozavodsk, and the museum of regional lore in Medvezh’egorsk. The republic has four theaters, a state symphony orchestra, and 646 film projectors. Extracurricular institutions include a palace of Pioneers and schoolchildren, 17 houses of Pioneers, a children’s park, two stations for young technicians, a station for young naturalists, and a children’s excursion and tourist center.

SCIENTIFIC INSTITUTIONS. The republic has 17 scientific institutions (1972 data), including the karelian branch of the academy of sciences of the ussr (comprising four institutes and two divisions), the Institute of forestry, the Northern Scientific Research Institute of Fisheries, and the Karelgrazhdanproekt. The scientific and production association Tselliulozmash was established in Petrozavodsk, combining the scientific research institute for pulp-making machinery with the Tiazhbummash plant. More than 1, 400 scientific workers, including 37 doctors of sciences and more than 430 candidates of sciences, are employed in higher educational institutions and scientific research institutes. Among the Honored scientists of the RSFSR working in karelia are corresponding member of the academy of sciences of the USSR N. I. P’iavchenko, doctor of historical science Ia. A. Balagurov, doctor of philological science E. S. Karkhu, and doctor of biological science A. S. Lutta. Honored Scientists of the Karelian ASSR include doctor of philological science V. Ia. Evseev and doctor of geographical science G. S. Biske.

Press, radio, and television. In 1971, 137 books and pamphlets were published in editions totaling 4, 213, 000 copies. Excluding local and kolkhoz newspapers, 18 newspapers were published in Finnish and Russian with a total circulation of 128, 000 copies (total annual circulation, 21, 328, 000 copies). The republic newspapers are Neuvosto-Karjala (Soviet Karelia), published in Finnish since 1920; Leninskaia pravda, published in Russian since 1918; and Komsomolets, published in Russian since 1920. Nine periodicals with a total circulation of 33, 000 are issued, including two journals devoted to literature and the arts and to social and political affairs—Punalippu (Red Banner), published in Finnish since 1940, and the Russian-language Sever (North), also published since 1940.

The republic’s radio and television systems broadcast in Finnish and Russian over two radio stations and two television channels; broadcasts from Moscow are relayed. The television station is in Petrozavodsk.

Literature. Written literature emerged in the republic after the October Revolution and has developed in two languages, Finnish and Russian. It is thus based on common ideological principles and on a distinctive blending of the oral poetic traditions of the rune singers and narrators of folk tales. The epic of the Karelian and Finnish peoples, the Kalevala, is famous throughout the world. The primary influences in the development of Karelia’s literature were socialist reality and classical Russian and Soviet literature. As Karelian literature developed, ties between writers of different nationalities were established and strengthened, giving it a distinctive character. Karelia’s literature is not a mechanical combination of several national literatures but rather an organic union of those literatures, engendered by socialist conditions.

The literature of the Karelian ASSR began to develop at the time of the first revolutionary transformations in the region. The first literary associations were created under the auspices of the newspapers Olonetskaia kommuna and Punainen Karjala (Red Karelia). These organizations merged to form the Karelia Association of Proletarian Writers with Russian (1926), Finnish (1927), and Karelian (1927) sections. The first journals were published: the Russian-language Krasnyi klich (1922) and Udar-nik slova (1931) and the Finnish-language Punakantele (Red Kantele, 1928). Not only Russian and Karelian writers contributed to the creation of the Soviet literature of Karelia, but also Finnish proletarian writers who had emigrated from Finland and the USA. The work of J. E. Virtanen (1889–1939), whom Gorky called a truly proletarian poet, was especially significant in this period.

The Union of Writers of the Karelian ASSR was established in 1934. A new hero began to emerge in Karelian literature in the 1930’s. Portrayed in a social and historical context, he is an active fighter, an individual who transforms the world. The method of socialist realism developed, and the ideological and artistic ties between Karelian and the multinational Soviet literature were strengthened. Karelian literature depicted socialist reality and interpreted the past. The two-volume work by H. Tihlä (1872–1944) The Page Turns (1934–36) and the novel by E. Parras (1884–1939) The People of Jymyvaara (1933) recount the peasantry’s road to revolution.

The transformation of the region during the prewar five-year plans was the theme of the lyric poetry of L. Helo (pseudonym of T. Huttari, 1907–53) and the essays and short stories of S. Norin (1909–42). The novelist O. Johansson (1892–1939) and the playwright R. Rusko (pseudonym of R. Nystrom, 1898— 1939) worked in the historical-revolutionary genre, and V. Chekhov (born 1901) wrote historical works. Journals were published in Russian (Nachalo, 1934–35), Karelian {Karelia, 1937–40), and Finnish (Rintama [The Front], 1932–37). The Russian-language journal Na rubezhe (now Sever) and the Finnish-language journal Punalippu (Red Banner), both founded in 1940, played an important role in the development of literature in Karelia and in strengthening its ties with Finnish literature. During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) a number of writers served in the Soviet Army and in partisan detachments near the front, producing books about the war and publicistic works. F. Isakov (1918–41) and I. Kutasov (1910–41) fell in battle for the homeland.

Among the writers who entered Karelian literature in the postwar period were the Finnish writers U. Vikstrom (born 1910) and T. Summanen (born 1931), the Russian writers F. Trofimov (born 1910), A. Linevskii (born 1902), and D. Gusarov (born 1924), and the Karelian writers A. Timonen (born 1915), P. Perttu (born 1918), N. Laine (born 1920), Ia. Rugoev (born 1918), and N. Jaakkola (1905–67). Lyric poetry was enriched by V. Morozov (1932–59), V. Ervasti (1913–47), G. Kikinov (1923–64), Salli Lund (born 1902), A. Titov (born 1913), A. Ivanov (born 1909), M. Sysoikov (born 1920), M. Tarasov (born 1930), and B. Shmidt (B. Kuznetsov, born 1913).

In large epic works in particular, there was a marked tendency toward the multifaceted portrayal of Soviet men and women and toward a psychological deepening of the contemporary hero’s character. Timonen’s novel By Native Paths (1958), Gusarov’s novel The Worth of a Human Being (1963), and Trofimov’s novellas Above Us, Our Stars (1962) and Fair Land (1969) portray the people as they move toward communism. Outstanding contributions to the historical-revolutionary genre include the tetralogy Watershed (books 1^1, 1949–66) by Iakkola, the trilogy Belomor’e (books 1–3, 1952–65) by Linevskii, the novel Suomi Under Fire (1968) by Vikstrem, the novel We Are Karelians (1969) by Timonen, the play In the Ring of Fire (1958) by P. Boriskov (born 1924), and the narrative poem Tale of the Karelians (1949–59) by Rugoev.

Several new voices are being heard, notably those of the poets O. Mishin (born 1935) and Iu. Linnik (born 1944) and the prose writers A. Stepanov (born 1920) and V. Solov’ev (born 1923). A prominent writer of children’s literature is Iu. Nikonova (born 1902).

The Second Congress of Soviet Writers of the Karelian ASSRwas held in 1954, the third in 1958, the fourth in 1963, and the fifth in 1967. The 100th anniversary of the Kalevala was com-memorated in 1949. Folklore study, literary criticism, and translating are developing.M. V. PAKHOMOVA

Architecture and art. Rock drawings of the Neolithic and Bronze Age have survived on the shores of the White Sea (Besovy Sledki, Zalavruga) and Lake Onega (Besov Nos, Peri Nos). The chipped out representations of animals (mainly elk) and hunting, fishing, combat, and ritual scenes, although primitive, are highly dynamic and expressive. Fragments of pottery with “pit-comb” designs, elk heads carved from antlers (Olenii Ostrov burial ground on Lake Onega), and schematic male and female figurines also date from the Neolithic. Archaeological finds of the first millennium a.d. attest to links with Scandinavia and the ancient Slavs. From the beginning of the second millennium a.d. Karelia’s artistic culture was closely interwoven with that of Russia.

Icon painting was practiced in Karelia from the 14th and 15th centuries. At that time it was an archaic branch of Novgorodian art, as shown by the 14th-century icon Apostle Peter (Russian Museum, Leningrad). By the 16th century local features had begun to appear in icon painting, such as the use of more primitive techniques and a greater simplicity of pictorial vocabulary (crudely worked panels, poorly prepared levkas [used in priming], and the use of impasto). Color became richer and more intense, drawing was generalized, and composition lost superfluous detail. Subject matter and spiritual significance predominated over decoration, as exemplified in the 15th-century icon SS. Peter and Paul (Museum of Fine Arts of the Karelian ASSR, Petrozavodsk). Favorite themes were St. Nicholas, the fiery ascent of the Prophet Elijah, and the miracle of SS. Florus and Laurus (for example, the 16th-century icon Fiery Ascent of the Prophet Elijah, Museum of Fine Arts of the Karelian ASSR, Petrozavodsk). Icon painting continued to develop down through the 18th century, losing its artistic qualities only in the 19th century.

The abundance of forests resulted in the extensive development of wood architecture, many of whose monuments are masterpieces of Russian national architecture. In Karelia, as in other parts of the Russian North, churches, consisting of rectangular frames with gable roofs, were built (Church of St. Lazarus at the Muromsk monastery, late 14th century), as were shater (tent-roofed) churches, for example the church in the village of Chelmuzhi (1605), the church on the island of Lychnyi (1620), the churches in the villages of Lindozero (1634) and Kosmozero (1720), and the Uspenskaia Church in Kondopoga (1774). The second half of the 17th century saw the appearance of the “cube” church, a square frame covered by a modified barrel-vault roof crowned with bulbous domes, examples of which may be found in the village of Virma (1759) and in the IPinskii churchyard in Vodlozero (1798). Another style that emerged in the 17th century was the picturesque multicupola church, represented by the 22-dome Preobrazhenskaia Church (1714) and the nine-dome Pokrovskaia Church (1764) in the Kizhi churchyard.

The predominant type of dwelling was the frame brus structure (living and service quarters in an elongated rectangular building under a gable roof) or the kosheV structure (all quarters grouped within a square frame building with a roof of two sloping surfaces of unequal length). The buildings of northern Karelia were distinguished by their severe simplicity and sparse decoration. In southern and southwestern Karelia churches and houses had a more festive appearance. With the development of industry and the growth of cities in the 18th century, stone construction began. An interesting example is the Kruglaia Square (now Lenin Square) ensemble in Petrozavodsk, which consisted initially of eight separate buildings in the classical style (1775, architect E. S. Nazarov). The ensemble was subsequently rebuilt (1787–89 and 1839) to form two large semicircular buildings with wings, distinguished by clarity of composition and noble simplicity of form.

Large-scale construction began during the Soviet era. The republic’s capital, Petrozavodsk, was transformed; old cities, such as Olonets, Kem’, and Serdobol’ (Sortavala), were rebuilt; and new cities (Medvezh’egorsk, Belomorsk, and Segezha) arose. Large residential sections and major public buildings were erected. During the 1940’s and 1950’s elements of the architectural orders were employed in a number of Petrozavodsk buildings (the House of Communications, 1950, architect A. K. Andreev; the Russian Dramatic Theater of the Karelian ASSR, 1953–55, architect S. G. Brodskii, sculptor S. T. Konenkov; and the Public Library, 1959, architect K. Ia. Gutin) and in the houses of culture in Segezha and Kondopoga. Other designs drew upon the decorative motifs of wood folk architecture, for example, the summer movie theater in Petrozavodsk built in 1949 by the architect M. G. Starchenko. During the 1960’s and 1970’s large industrial and public buildings were erected using the designs of the Karelgrazhdanproekt Institute. These designs reflect the architects’ striving for simplicity and clarity of form (Vygostrov Hydroelectric Power Plant, 1961, chief engineer G. I. Konenkov; Finnish Dramatic Theater in Petrozavodsk, renovated in 1965, architect S. G. Brodskii). The Karelian Division of the Union of Architects of the USSR was established in 1943 (22 members in 1972).

In the secular art that emerged in the 20th century the work of V. N. Popov, who was affiliated with the peredvizhniki (the “wanderers,” a progressive art movement), occupied a special place. He headed an art school (1919–21) and a fine arts studio (opened in 1936) under the auspices of the House of Folk Art in Petrozavodsk. The works of painters of the 1930’s, notably V. N. Popov, D. S. Ershov, and A. I. Katseblin, portrayed the transformation of the region and the dawn of a new life. The Union of Artists of the republic, established in 1940, had 30 members in 1972. In the paintings of the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s, there was a predominance of landscapes, frequently with genre motifs (S. Kh. Iuntunen, V. M. Avdysheva, and B. N. Pomortsev), of portraits (G. A. Stronk, F. E. Nieminen, and E. K. Pekhova), and of still lifes (L. F. Lankinen and V. M. Avdysheva).

Graphic art has been developing rapidly since the 1950’s. The drawings, linocuts, and etchings of A. F. Kozlov are devoted to children’s themes; the changing face of the region is captured in the etchings of Z. E. L’vovich and S. I. Griazev and in the linocuts of V. P. Tervinskii; and the poetry and beauty of nature are revealed in the color and black and white linocuts of A. I. Avdyshev and M. A. Ignat’eva. Portrait and genre sculpture have been developing in the 1960’s and 1970’s (L. F. Lankinen, G. F. Lankinen, V. V. Afanas’ev, and E. A. Akulov).

Decorative folk art is represented by notched and openwork woodcarving with simple designs (herringbone, diamond, rosette). Such carving adorns churches, houses, furniture, and vessels. Decorative painting is used, along with carving, to decorate buildings and everyday objects. Embroidery is widespread.

Music. In prerevolutionary Karelia, musical art existed exclusively within the folk tradition. Karelian, Finnish, Veps, and Pomor’e songs are marked by distinctive national features. The rich and varied Karelian folk songs developed through extensive contacts with neighboring peoples. One of the oldest types of folk song was the rune, a Karelian-Finnish epic song. The earliest runes had a range of a fifth or a fourth and consisted of two diatonic melodies repeated at intervals (the basic meters were 3/4 and 5/4). Runes were usually sung solo or as a dialogue between two singers, sometimes with accompaniment on the kantele, the national plucked instrument. Other folk instruments were the jouhikko and virsikannel, both bowed instruments, and a birch-bark shepherd’s horn. The most famous 19th-century rune singers were A. Perttunen and his son Miihkali, A. Malinen, and V. Kielevainen. Russian byliny (epic poems) and tales were composed and recited by T. G. Riabinin, I. T. Riabinin, and V. Shchegolenok. Karelian folk melodies may be found in the works of several Russian composers, including M. I. Glinka, M. P. Mussorgsky, and A. S. Arenskii.

After the October Revolution collections of folk songs and folk-song adaptations were published, and the first professional musical works were composed (K. E. Rautio, L. K. Iousinen, and L. Ia. Teplitskii). G. R. Sinisalo wrote the first Karelian symphony, Heroes of the Forest (1948), and the first national ballet, Sampo (staged in 1959). R. S. Pergament composed the first national comic opera, Kumokha (concert performance in 1949; revised version staged in 1959), the symphonic poem Aino (1937), and the oratorio Happiness Found (1952). He also introduced the folk kantele into the classical instrumental ensemble. Other significant works of Karelian national music include the symphony-cantata Kanteletar and the suite Symphonic Runes by E. Patlaenko and the oratorio Songs of the Pomor’e by A. Le-man. The work of the musicologist G. I. Lapchinskii greatly assisted the development of the study of music history in Karelia.

Important in the musical life of Karelia is the Musical Theater of the Karelian ASSR, founded in 1955, whose company includes People’s Artist of the RSFSR S. I. Gubina and People’s Artists of the Karelian ASSR Z. N. Estrin and Iu. M. Sidorov and whose conductor is I. E. Sherman. There are also the Karelian Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra (founded in 1933), the Kantele State Song and Dance Company of the Karelian ASSR (founded in 1936), a philharmonic society (founded in 1939), a branch of the Leningrad Conservatory (founded in 1967), a music college (founded in 1938), and 17 music schools. The Union of Composers of the Karelian ASSR was founded in 1937.

Theater. Prior to the October Socialist Revolution, Karelia had no national theater and Russian companies appeared annually in Petrozavodsk. Between 1918 and 1920 the Russian National Drama Theater headed by N. V. Petrov gave performances in Petrozavodsk. The Theater of Russian Drama, founded in 1929, became the Musical-Dramatic Theater in 1955; in 1970 it was renamed the Russian Dramatic Theater of the Karelian ASSR.

The national Finnish Dramatic Theater, the first in the history of Karelia, was established in 1932. Its company includes graduates of the Karelian division of the Leningrad Art Studio and amateur actors. The theater stages Finnish, Russian, and West European classics, plays by Soviet authors, and works by progressive foreign playwrights. Its repertoire has included The Break by B. A. Lavrenev (1932), Liubov’ Iarovaia by K. A. Trenev (1935), The Shoemakers From Nummi by A. Kiva (1937), My Friend by N. F. Pogodin (1940), Egor Bulychov and the Others by M. Gorky (1940), On the Timber-floating River by T. Pakkala (1946), Women of Niskavuori by H. Wuolijoki (1948), South Wind, based on the work by E. Grin (1949), The Backwoods Awaken by T. Lankinen and N. Jaakkola (1956), Indian Summer by M. Lassila (1964), Power and Glory by K. Capek (1966), Mother Courage by B. Brecht (1966), Fourth Vertebra by M. Larni(1967), The Wild Captain by J. Smuul(1968), The House of Bernardo Alba by F. García Lorca (1969), Do You Accept Me, Karelian Land? by A. Timonen (1969), and Under the North Star, based on the work by V. Linna (1971).

Plays staged by the Russian Dramatic Theater include Maiden Lake (1939) and The Treasure of Sampo (1940) by D. A. Shche-glov, The Kremlin Chimes by N. F. Pogodin (1941), Russians by K. M. Simonov (1942), Chamber by S. I. Aleshin (1962), Ma-shen’ka by A. N. Afinogenov (1964), The Last Ones by M. Gorky (1968), The Gale by V. N. Bill’-Belotserkovskii (1968), and Mariia by A. D. Salynskii (1970).

In 1959 the theaters of Karelia took part in the Festival of Karelian Art and Literature in Moscow.

Outstanding actors and directors who have worked in the republic at various times include Ia. N. Charov, G. A. Belov, P. P. Gaideburov, R. Niustrem, G. S. Ol’shvanger, A. V. Pergament, P. N. Chaplygin, A. I. Shibueva, and M. V. Sulimov. Among important theatrical figures (1972) are People’s Artist of the USSR E. S. Tomberg; People’s Artists of the RSFSR D. K. Karpova, T. I. Lankinen, T. I. Rompainen, and Iu. A. Khumppi; Honored Art Workers of the RSFSR V. E. Suni and S. A. Tuorila, and People’s Artists of the Karelian ASSR V. D. Tomashevskaia, V. A. Finogeeva, and B. I. Khotianov. The Puppet Theater, founded in 1935, is located in Petrozavodsk.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.