Latvia, and particularly Rīga, is fiercely distinct from the other two Baltic States (Estonia and Lithuania). German influence was stronger here than elsewhere, because the 14th-century Knights of the Sword used this as their base. When the Soviets forcibly incorporated Latvia into the Soviet Union in 1944, the effects of Russification were more devastating. Today 45% of Latvia is Russian-speaking; in Rīga, Russians, Ukrainians, and Belorussians are the majority. This has created a palpable tension: Latvians are angered because their culture has been suppressed for 50 years, whereas Russians are frustrated with the fact that most of them have yet to be granted citizenship here.

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