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Latvia Marks 100 Years Since Independence From Russian Empire


Soldiers take part in a military parade in Riga on November 18 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Latvia's declaration of independence in 1918.

Latvians have been marking the centenary of their independence with festivities across the country including music concerts, military parades, and fireworks.

The presidents of Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, and Iceland on November 18 joined Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis to lay flowers at the Freedom Monument in the capital, Riga, and attend a military parade.

The heads of state also attended a concert at the Latvian National Theater, where independence was proclaimed 100 years ago.

"In these 100 years, we have fought for the independence of our state and have stood up for the freedom to determine our destiny. Today we can really be proud of the achievements of our country," Vejonis said in a video message.

Latvia, along with Estonia and Lithuania, were part of the Russian Empire before declaring independence in 1918.

The three Baltic states were independent until 1940, when they were occupied by the Soviet Union and annexed in an act never officially recognized by the United States.

The countries, with a combined population of just 6 million people, regained their independence in 1991 and joined the European Union and NATO in 2004.

They have expressed concerns about Moscow's intentions in the region, especially since Russia's seizure and annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, and were rattled by U.S. President Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric in 2016 questioning NATO's relevance.

Last year, the Western military alliance deployed four multinational battalions to Poland and the Baltic states as tripwires against possible Russian adventurism.

Based on reporting by AFP and lsm.lv
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