History Exactly 40 years ago Urho Kekkonen’s condition collapsed during a fishing trip in Iceland – HS reporter Kalle Heiskanen, who traveled after Kekkonen, now tells how he collided with secrecy and self-censorship

Urho Kekkonen’s condition collapsed during a fishing trip in Iceland exactly forty years ago.

Ten places a private plane took off from Turku on Monday, August 17, 1981. The expedition of the President of the Republic included an adjutant Lasse Wächterin and security manager Teuvo Hirvosen in addition to business people. Also present was a professor of internal medicine known as a hard fisherman Pentti Halonen, who was one of Kekkonen ‘s doctors.

On Kekkonen’s previous trips to Iceland, journalists had been allowed to follow the fishing. In 1977, Kekkonen had slipped on the shore stones and fell into the water. A few magazine photographers had had time to capture the situation, but the pictures had not been published.

In August 1981, the Office of the President made it clear that no media was desired for the trip. Despite the request, Helsingin Sanomat sent a journalist to Iceland Kalle Heiskasen and photographer Hans Paulin.

To Reykjavik upon arrival, Kekkonen had lunch with the President of Iceland Vigdis Finnbogatutirin by. It was the first meeting of the presidents. At the end of less than two hours of lunch, President Finnbogadóir escorted President Kekkonen to the car. They walked hand in hand.

The Kekkonen entourage continued its journey by propeller towards the northwest coast and the Víðidalsájoki. Heiskanen and Paul rented a Range Rover SUV and followed.

Telephone connections were weak. At the end of the first day of fishing, Heiskanen finally caught up with Presidential Adjutant Lasse Wächter, who said the trip had gone well and that the President had dragged four salmon from the river in an hour.

“I tapped this magazine. It was perhaps the biggest fish lie I have ever told, ”says Kalle Heiskanen, recalling what happened forty years ago.

As Heiskanen and Paul approached the residence of the presidential entourage, they collided with a roadblock half a mile guarded by two Icelandic police officers.

Heiskanen and Paul tried to cram from the mountain slopes towards the fishing spot. The river was strangely quiet. Kekkonen fishes in hiding from the public, Heiskanen wrote.

Secretive The fishing trip ended on Friday, August 21st. Heiskanen and Paul were waiting in a small field in the center of Reykjavik when Kekkonen landed on the steps of a propeller plane. Hans Paul took a picture of the situation with the consul Kai Juuranto and Captain Teuvo Hirvonen help Kekko from the plane. In the background is the serious adjutant Wächter.

Heiskanen asked the president how the trip had gone. The answer was a growl: “It went well.” The tacit president described the fish catch as “tolerable”. Members of the party said the cold had hampered fishing.

Kekkonen still met the President of Iceland, Finnbogatutir, at the airport, but the discussion lasted only ten minutes. After this, Kekkonen retired to rest. The HS duo followed the events.

As the President rested in his hotel room and doctor Pentti Halonen strolled around the hotel lobby with concern, the rest of the party enjoyed the hospitality of the Icelanders., Heiskanen wrote in the magazine.

Those words were too much.

When Kalle Heiskanen got home, his wife said that HS’s news editor Simopekka Nortamo had tried to reach Heiska many times. Nortamo was furious. How could you write some suggestive story? Don’t you realize that the old man may be tired, Nortamo shouted at Heiskanen.

It turned out that the presidential staff was angry at Heiskanen’s story, which had hinted at Kekkonen’s deteriorating health. Editor-in-Chief Nortamo demanded that Heiskanen make a correction, but Heiskanen refused.

The correction was tapped by HS’s weekend shift. On Monday, August 24, a text in one column of the HS said that “the president’s slight travel fatigue is over”. Adjutant Lasse Wächter said that “the president’s well-being is perfectly normal and his health is impeccable”.

What was the truth? After the trip, HS’s delivery no longer relied on the information provided by the Chancellery and the Adjutant. HS started a 24-hour on-call duty at the Tamminiemi gate.

On Friday, September 11, 81-year-old President Kekkonen was on sick leave for a month. He no longer returned to work. The trip to Iceland had been a turning point.

It later emerged the president had been fierce and restless. He had lost consciousness of time and place. He had delusions. Fishing had not become anything.

Kalle Heiskanen had watched Kekkonen’s last weeks in anxiety. Eventually the truth dawned.

“I didn’t feel satisfied,” Heiskanen says.

“But I was relieved that my hints had been right.”

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