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Russia: Soviet Rule in Baltics was Legitimate

Russia says the Soviet Union took over the Baltic countries under a mutual agreement during World War Two - and not by force, as the Baltic States contend.

The Kremlin's European affairs chief, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, said Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia had invited Soviet troops into their countries.

The three Baltic countries have called on Russia to denounce the Soviet rule, which lasted five decades, as an occupation.

Of the current Baltic presidents, only Latvia's Vaira Vike-Freiberga is to attend ceremonies Monday in Moscow for the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.

President Bush said in an interview with Lithuanian state television that he will tell Russian President Vladimir Putin that the end of the war did not mean freedom for the Baltics.

President Bush is to meet the Baltic presidents in Riga on Saturday, and is to attend the ceremonies Monday in Moscow.

Some information for this story provided by AP and AFP.