Russia’s President Vladimir Putin says Russia should be grateful to Finland for keeping the relics, which had been taken there from the Valaam Monastery. Those valuables, he said, should unite the two countries’ people.
"Those relics are valuable both for the Finns and for us. The Finns have been keeping them, they offer free access for those who want to see them. I think, those relics should be something which would unite us, including in the spiritual sphere," he told a Russian reporter, author of the Valaam film, which the Rossiya 1 television channel will broadcast on Sunday. The film’s fragment is available on the television channel’s website.
"Finland is our good neighbor," the president said. "Without Finland, the Valaam Monastery could cease to exist, as we all know how the Soviet authorities treated religious relics."
"They (the relics) were taken to Finland and were rescued there, and for this we should say "thank you" to the Finns and to our compatriots, who had left for Finland and kept there the New-Valaam Monastery and Valaam’s relics," Putin said.
In 1939, before the Soviet-Finnish war, about 200 people left Valaam for Finland. The monks took with them icons, the library, the archive and bells. In Finland they were looking for a place similar to Valaam, and found it in Eastern Finland - in Heinavesi, where the New Valamo (or New Valaam) Monastery is now.