Putin in Finland on centenary of independence from Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin is visiting Finland as the small nation celebrates 100 years of independence from its huge eastern neighbor.

Putin arrived Thursday afternoon near the eastern border town of Savonlinna for talks with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto on bilateral relations and international issues.

After the discussions, the two leaders were to cruise on Lake Saimaa on a steam boat to Olavinlinna Castle for Tchaikovsky's opera, "Iolanta," performed by the visiting Bolshoi Theater as part of the annual Savonlinna opera festival.

Finland, which shares a 1,400-kilometer (800-mile) border with Russia, was part of Sweden for 700 years before falling to czarist Russia in 1809 when the Swedes were defeated in the Russo-Swedish wars. It declared independence in 1917 in the wake of the Russian Revolution.