RIA Novosti

PUTIN: USSR COULD NOT OCCUPY BALTIC COUNTRIES IN 1941 BECAUSE THEY HAD BEEN PART OF IT SINCE 1940

18:59 10/05/2005

MOSCOW, May 10 (RIA Novosti) - The Soviet Union could not occupy the Baltic states in 1941 because they acceded to it in 1940, Russian President Vladimir Putin replied to an Estonian journalist during a press conference following the Russia-EU summit meeting in Moscow. Thus, "the Soviet Union could not occupy them in 1941 because they were part of it," Putin said.

Vladimir Putin believes the resolution by the Congress of the People's Deputies of 1989 denouncing the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact settled the issue.

"What else can we say about that more precisely and unambiguously? Or do you want us to do so [denounce the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact] every year? We believe the matter has been closed. It was denounced, and that's enough," the Russian president said.

The Estonian reporter asked him in Russian why Russia did not want to apologize for the alleged occupation of the Baltic states.

"You speak Russian so well that I am certain you can read in Russian as well. Please, read the resolution of the Congress of the People's Deputies where it is written in black and white: "The Congress of the People's Deputies is denouncing the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and regards it as legally invalid. It did not reflect the opinion of the Soviet people and was a personal matter of Stalin and Hitler," Putin said.

"We should not allow the dead to grab us by our sleeves, preventing us from moving ahead," he stated.

Putin said that there had been the Peace Treaty of Brest-Litovsk concluded in 1918, which was "essentially, a collusion between Germany and Russia."

"This is what the Estonian statehood dates back to," the president said.

"At the time, Russia had to give part of its territory to Germany," Putin said, and in 1939 "there was another collusion between Russia and Germany, and Germany returned the territory to Russia," Putin said.

He reasserted that he considered the events to be "a collusion, in which small states and small peoples became small change."

"Whether it was good or bad, let us drop the subject. It was a historic fact just like the use of slave labor in America was," the president said.

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