Otto Wilhelm (Wille) Kuusinen (Russian: О́тто Вильге́льмович Ку́усинен) (4 October 1881, Laukaa, Finland – 17 May, 1964, Moscow) was a Finnish and Soviet politician, literature historian, and poet, who after the defeat in the Finnish Civil War fled to the Soviet Union, where he worked until his death.
After toppling the more moderate party chairman J. K. Kari in 1906, Kuusinen came to dominate Finland's Social Democratic Party. He was the leader of the January 1918 revolution in Finland that created the short-lived Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic. After the republic was defeated in the Finnish Civil War in 1918, Kuusinen fled to Moscow and helped form the Finnish Communist Party. He was member of Finland's Parliament 1908–1913 and the party's chairman 1911–1917.
He continued his work as a prominent leader of the Comintern in Bolshevist Russia, that soon became the Soviet Union. In Finland, a more moderate faction rehabilitated the Social Democrats under Väinö Tanner's leadership. Meanwhile, Kuusinen and other radicals were increasingly seen as responsible for the Civil War and its aftermath.
Animosity towards Socialists in Finland in the decades after the Civil War prompted many Finns to emigrate to Russia to "build Socialism." However, the Soviet Great Purge was a hard blow against Finns in the Soviet Union — most of those who didn't escape back to Finland were executed as unreliables in the 1930s — and Kuusinen's reputation in Finland was further damaged when he turned out to remain one of the very few not targeted by Stalinist show trials, deportations and executions.
When the Red Army began its advance during Winter War on November 30, 1939, he was pronounced head of the Terijoki Government, Stalin's puppet régime (of the so-called Finnish Democratic Republic) intended to rule the captured Finland. But as the war did not go as planned, and a negotiated peace with the Finnish government became unavoidable for the Soviet leadership, Kuusinen was put aside and made chairman of the presidium of Supreme Soviet of the Karelo-Finnish SSR (1940–1956).
Already suspect, Kuusinen's involvement in the Terijoki government sealed his reputation among Finnish Socialists as a traitor, and, rather than the intended effect, it contributed to the unification of the Finns and the healing of the wounds from the Civil War.
After fleeing to the Soviet Union, Kuusinen became an influential official in the state administration. He was a member of the Soviet Union's Politburo, the highest state organ. Kuusinen also continued his work during the reign of Nikita Khrushchev (1953–1964). He was Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union 1957–1964. In 1952 and again in 1957 he was also elected to the Presidium of the Central Committee.
Kuusinen was one of the editors of The Fundamentals in Marxism-Leninism, considered one of the fundamental works on dialectical materialism and Leninist Communism. In the Kremlin politics he was considered liberal — and from its temporal distance his thinking pointed forward to the perestroika. While editing a new party programme for "rapid agricultural, industrial, and technological development" he championed giving up the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat, to the horror of more conservative ideologists. In this he was supported by Khrushchev.
Kuusinen was elected member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences in 1958.
Being informed by the Kremlin doctors to be deathly ill, before his death Otto Ville Kuusinen asked through Soviet Embassy in Helsinki a permission to visit in Finland at Laukaa and Jyväskylä as private person from Government of Finland. His request was rejected.