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315 pages

The Russian Idea

Venäjän idea

A chillingly salient classic of political history by Finnish statesman and Russia expert—now available in English for the first time.

Written by Finland’s former President, Mauno Koivisto, who set out to understand Russian thinking through the lens of historical events and to anticipate its influence on Russia’s future choices, The Russian Idea examines Russia from a geographical neighbour’s perspective. Now, over twenty years after its original publication and in the wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February 2022, this book remains more topical than ever.

While outlining the key episodes in Russian history, Koivisto explores the essence of what Russia and Russianness stand for. What was the significance of Moscow’s self-proclamation as the Third Rome, and how did Russia become an empire? What impact did the existence of that empire have on Finland’s independence?

Koivisto combines a review of Russian political history with an introduction to the Russian history of ideas. He describes the Russian intellectual heritage as a combination of Orthodox religion, Pan-Slavism and Socialism. Twenty years after its original publication, the book remains highly relevant to this day and serves as an important historical document for those interested in foreign policy, current affairs, and history. As a Finnish statesman and authority on Russian politics and history, Mauno Koivisto’s perspective on the subject remains evergreen.


Finnish Edition
English Translation tk

Rights sold

Estonian (Helios Kirjastus)


‘President Mauno Koivisto’s The Russian Idea (2001) was reprinted after decades when Russia invaded Ukraine in full force, and the book’s library reservation lists grew….For Koivisto, the Russian Idea was about trying to take over precious land, spread faith and unite Slavs in Russia’s leadership. That sounds familiar.’ – Vesa Sirén, Helsingin Sanomat newspaper

‘When it was [first] published, Koivisto’s book attracted attention in Russia as well. Even now, it offers clues for those who want to understand [it] and not just surf the emotional waves of the moment.’ – Ilta-Sanomat newspaper