Russia ratifies Soviet military graves agreement with Latvia

MOSCOW, July 11 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian parliament's upper house, the Federation Council, ratified on Friday an agreement with Latvia on the status of Soviet military burial sites.

The agreement is aimed at establishing the rights and obligations of the parties relating to the burial sites of military personnel from the two countries on each other's territories.

Russia has already ratified similar agreements with 11 countries, including with the Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, China, Finland, Japan, Italy and Mongolia.

Latvia and Russia agreed on the document last year against the backdrop of disturbances in neighboring Estonia following the removal of graves of Soviet soldiers, as well as a monument to Soviet soldiers killed while liberating the Baltic state from the Nazis in World War II. The monument was moved from downtown Tallinn to a military cemetery last spring.

The move provoked mass protests and riots by ethnic Russians in the Estonian capital. One man was killed and many injured in clashes with police.

The issue of Soviet-era monuments and graves is a sensitive one in the Baltic states. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia all have large Russian-speaking populations.

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