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Latvia Gives Yeltsin Its Highest Award --> Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga decorates former Russian president Boris Yeltsin with Order of the Three Stars (epa) August 22, 2006 -- Latvia's President Vaira Vike-Freiberga today presented Russia's first president, Boris Yeltsin, with its highest award in gratitude for what she described as his "historic" role in the liberation of Latvia from Soviet rule.

As president, Yeltsin both ratified the Baltic state's independence in 1991 and oversaw the withdrawal of the Russian army from Latvian territory.

A group of ethnic Russians in Latvia in an open letter accused Yeltsin of "betraying" them by accepting the award.

(dpa, ITAR-TASS)