New Karelian governor has Finnish background
Aleksandr Khudilainen speaks fluently Finnish and is proud of his ancestoral relation to the neighboring country.
”I am a pure Finn, in the tenth generation and I speak the language since childhood,” the newly appointed regional leader told Karelinform.ru.
Khudilainen was appointed acting governor on the 22 May and subsequently approved by regional legislators and inagurated on the 24th. He replaces Andrei Nelidov, who has held the post since 2010. The new governor comes from the post as Speaker in the Leningrad Oblast regional parliament and also holds high positions in the United Russia party. Before serving in the Leningrad regional parliament, he headed the municipality of Gatchin and successfully attracted Finnish investors to the area.
”Karelia is a great region, with a huge potental, a benefical geopolitical location, unique natural resources, qualified workers and good traditions,” the new regional leader said in his inauguration speech.
The new governor admits that he was surprised when he was summoned to the Kremlin on the 21 May and offered the post.
Khudilainen has his family ancestry from the Ingrian people, a minority of ethnical Finns living in the area since the 17 century. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Ingrians made up a significant group in the area south and east of the Gulf of Finland, but were close to being eradicated under Stalinist rule in the 1930s when many thousands were deported to other parts of the country. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, surviving Ingrian Finns and their Russified descendants were allowed to emigrate to Finland.