The events of life

Ortjo Stepanov (or in the Karelian way: Jouhko's Kalaska's Vaske's Oleksey's Pekka's Miihkali's Ortjo) was born in Haikola village on 7th of April in 1920. His father Miihkali was a runosinger, from whom Viktor Jevsejev, a researcher from the Karelian Research Center of the Russian Academy, has recorded tietohuisia (orally transmitted traditional knowledge in an epic form). Ortjo's mother Anni was also born in a family of runosingers.
Ortjo began school in the village Haikola, and continued in Uhtua secondary school. After basic education he proceeded to the Finnish teacher's college in Petrozavodsk, from where he graduated in 1938. He was sent to teach in the village Pyhäjärvi in Prääsä district. His teacher's assignment was interrupted by the start of Winter War in 1939, which in Soviet Union was called the War of Finland. Ortjo was called to serve in the army, not the one waging war, but to the national army of Terijoki government. The army was equipped for the march of freedom to be held in Helsinki, which never came to pass.
In the Continuation War, known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War, Ortjo was serving first in the Finnish army near Korpiselkä, where he was wounded. After returning from hospital he worked as the head of an intelligence company at Kalin frontier and was wounded again. After the war he studied in Leningrad School of Economics. In 1948 he returned to Karelia. In the beginning he worked as an assistant manager in Petrozavodsk Office of Commerce for almost a year until he was appointed as senior inspector of the Ministry for State Security. He had this assignment for five years.
In 1954 during the war Stepanov as a Party member was sent to Kalevala district to follow the realization of the campaign proclaimed in the Soviet Union. According to the campaign, the country was meant to reach the five years lead the United States had in agriculture, and to supervise that the directives were obeyed in the district. When Ortjo was touring the villages, he started to investigate the war time incidents in occupied villages and had KGB at his back. When he did not quit his investigation, he was dismissed from his high position. As a replacement he was offered a post of a night watch in a car depot of a forestry company. Ortjo refused, and he became the only officially unemployed person in the entire Soviet Union. Now he had enough time for literary work, which he already had begun while living in Petrozavodsk with the encouragement of his schoolmate Jaakko Rugojev.
His work as a writer Ortjo started by writing descriptions in newspapers, but proceeded soon to short prose. Meanwhile, already in the late 1950s and early 1960s he began to plan an extensive novel series, which he wrote during the next two decades.
In the 1950s he had short term employments in Viena Karelia, but because of his critical societal action he was unemployed again from early 1960 until the end of 1965, when he moved to Petrozavodsk. There he received a post as prose editor in the Red Flag magazine by his writer colleagues. In this employment he continued until the year 1980. Along with this work, there remained enough time for his own writing.
From the end of 1970s he returned to his birth place Haikola, where he had renovated a house built by his father. Almost half of his literary work has been made in Haikola.
The living conditions of the people in his home region were close to Ortjo Stepanov's heart. He wrote to every head of state from Nikita Chruchev to Boris Yeltsin about the life in Viena Karelia, especially of the flaws and defects caused by governmental malpractice, and made suggestions to cure the situation.
Ortjo Stepanov died on 22nd of March in 1998 in Petrozavodsk. The six part Story of My Homeland (Kotikunnan tarina) remained as his greatest piece of work. The literal merits of the series soon brought him the status among the Karelian literature classics, but it had other tasks as well. The books told Viena Karelian people about their history of the past decades and enhanced their identity.