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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 June 2006, 18:07 GMT 19:07 UK
Baltic victims of USSR remembered
Estonian President Arnold Ruutel lays a wreath during ceremony in Tallinn, 14 June 06
An emotional ceremony took place in the Estonian capital
The Baltic states - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - have held a day of mourning for thousands of their people who were exiled to Siberia during Soviet rule.

On 14 June 1941 more than 30,000 were deported from the Baltic countries to prison camps in Siberia.

At a ceremony in Tallinn, the Estonian President, Arnold Ruutel, said the victims of the Stalinist deportations would be remembered forever.

But controversy surrounds a plan to put up a plaque at the European Parliament.

Some Socialists in the European parliament are blocking the plan, saying that it would lead to a plethora of memorials.

But Baltic MEPs say they feel it is important that older members of the EU learn about the history of new member countries, to understand them better, the BBC's Laura Sheeter reports from Riga.

Bitter memories

The Baltic republics regained their independence from the Soviet Union 15 years ago and joined the European Union in May 2004.

In all three countries the mass deportations carried out during Joseph Stalin's rule are commemorated as an act of genocide and a crime against humanity.

President Valdas Adamkus of Lithuania said it was still impossible to recall the events without pain.

Soviet troops herded Baltic civilians onto cattle trucks heading for Siberia.

Men were separated from their families and sent to prison camps, where most were shot. Women and children travelled for weeks to remote parts of Russia, where they were left to fend for themselves. Many died from disease and starvation.


SEE ALSO
Baltic honours Soviet opponents
13 Jan 06 |  Europe
Thorny legacy of 'Soviet Man'
09 May 05 |  Europe
Country profile: Estonia
30 Apr 06 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Latvia
20 Dec 05 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Lithuania
20 Dec 05 |  Country profiles

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