U.S. SENATE: RUSSIA SHOULD APOLOGIZE FOR BALTIC "OCCUPATION"

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MOSCOW, May 23 (RIA Novosti) - The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution Friday saying that Russia should apologize for "the occupation and annexation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by the Soviet Union from 1940 to 1991," Vremya Novostei, a political daily, reported.

"The Government of the Russian Federation must issue a clear and unambiguous statement of admission and condemnation of the illegal occupation and annexation by the Soviet Union from 1940 to 1991 of the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania," the resolution said.

The House of Representatives is reviewing a draft of an almost identical resolution. Congressman John Shimkus, a Republican from Illinois, and Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from Ohio co-authored the resolution. They lead the Baltic faction formed in the U.S. Congress in 1997.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the 1989 Congress of People's Deputies of the Soviet Union already condemned the agreements between Stalin and Hitler, retorting "Do you want us to apologize every year?" on May 9 after VE-Day celebrations here.

"An intricate political game is being played because in recent years Russia started to realize more clearly and, most importantly, defend its interests in the world," chairman of the State Duma committee on foreign affairs Konstantin Kosachev said. "Many centers of power and countries would like to see [the return] of 1990s Russia when the country was weak, quiet and did not demand anything."

Kosachev called the resolution a "political declaration" that could be considered a recommendation rather than a directive for the White House. "I have no doubt that Russia will not give in to the resolutions demands. It will certainly not have any legal consequences for the status of Russian-U.S. relations," he said.

According to Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko, Russia "does not see any reason to make special comments on the resolution adopted by the U.S. Senate."

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