President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Russia will make no further apologies for dictator Josef Stalin's secret World War II pact with Hitler that led to the Soviet annexation of the Baltic states, declaring it ``a closed issue.''
Putin said Moscow was ready to reach border agreements with Estonia and Latvia if the two countries, which gained independence after the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991, approach talks in a ``mature'' fashion, without ``foolish preconditions.''
Putin was further angered when President Bush visited Latvia on his way to Moscow for the most important day on the Russian political calendar. In addition Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, have become members of NATO, bringing the Western alliance to the Russian frontier.
Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga was the only Baltic leader to accept an invitation to attend the commemoration in Moscow, while the heads of Lithuania and Estonia said they could not attend because of five decades of occupation.
Putin insists the three Baltic states willingly joined the Soviet Union on the basis of the pact, but the Latvian president said Putin was ``lying through his teeth.''
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
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