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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Veterans Entreat Yeltsin

TALLINN, Estonia -- Russian war veterans in Estonia, who seldom have Estonian citizenship and depend entirely on modest pensions from Moscow, have not received any money since July, a regional newspaper said Thursday.

Laane Elu newspaper said the veterans wrote a letter to President Boris Yeltsin appealing to him for help.

"We live from one pension to the next one, and can hardly pay the rent. And now they won't even give this small money," said Sergei Blinkov, head of an organization of former Soviet soldiers.

Thousands of Red Army soldiers settled in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania after the three countries were swallowed by the Soviet Union in the 1940s.

For decades they were treated as heroes, but since the three Baltic nations regained independence in 1991, they became a symbol of the Soviet oppression to many here.

"We worked and defended the borders, but now we are old and nobody needs us -- neither Estonia nor Russia," Blinkov said.

Blinkov said that though in Russia the pensions and salaries have not been paid either, the 10,000 mostly elderly veterans stuck in Estonia were worse off.

"In Russia, people can get help from their relatives, but we are alone in this strange country," Blinkov said.

Russia has accused Estonia and Latvia of discriminating against the thousands of Russian speakers who live there for not granting them automatic citizenship after the Soviet Union collapsed.