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#5 - JRL 7230
The Baltic Times
June 19, 2003
President: Russia not psychologically healthy

RIGA -- President Vaira Vike-Freiberga said in an interview that Russia has yet to come to grips with its past through rigorous retrospection as the Germans have done.

Speaking to Diena, the most popular Latvian daily, Vike-Freiberga said that Russia has yet to fully learn its history through "psychological processing" of the past.

"The processing of assimilating and redefining the past which Germany went through very painfully after the collapse of Nazism is proceeding very slowly in Russia after the collapse of communism," said the president, who backed up her belief by citing recent polls in Russia which show that Stalin is regarded as a hero.

Vike-Freiberga said she hoped that the process of democratization in Russia so that the country may engage in a dialogue "with those of us free of those visible psychological complexes."

Before moving to Riga, Vike-Freiberga worked as a professionally trained psychologist in Canada. Though she speaks several languages, Russian is not one of them.

Relations with Russia have been tense over since the Baltic country received independence, but over the past few months there have been signs of rapprochement, including high-levels visits, increased investment and removal of Latvia from Russia's list of offshore zones.

Russia still criticizes Latvia's leadership for alleged abuse of rights of ethnic Russians in Latvia, who make up 35 percent of the population. Russia has yet to sign a border agreement with Latvia, which is striving to join the European Union next year.

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