The Finland-Russia Society has established the Kharasho award for contribution to the development of Finnish-Russian co-operation and popularisation of knowledge about Russia and Finland. The first award was presented to Martti Hosia, the Moscow correspondent of Yleisradio.
Heikki Talvitie, the society's president, said at the awarding ceremony on Thursday that Russia is an important political, economic, and cultural partner of Finland, therefore, the development of neighbourly relations has special significance.
According to him, the Finland-Russia Society should not "merely exist," it should constantly seek new ways of co-operation, develop new projects, recruit new people. "It is only then that co-operation will be productive." The new award's establishment would serve to this purpose, according to him.
The Finland-Russia Society was set up in 1944 and has over 19,000 members. Its branches are situated in all of Finland's major cities - Lappeenranta, Kuopio, Oulu, Rovaniemi, Tampere, and Turku, and in the Russian cities of St. Petersburg and Petrozavodsk.