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Many Russians, especially Communist party members who had arrived in the area with the initial occupation and annexation, retreated; those who fell into the German hands were treated harshly, many were executed.After the war, Narva's inhabitants previously evacuated by the Germans were for the most part not permitted to return and were replaced by refugees and workers administratively mobilized from western Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.In the Ida-Viru and Harju Counties, cities such as Paldiski, Sillamäe, and Narva were ethnically cleansed and the indigenous Estonian population was totally replaced by Russian colonists.As a result of Soviet occupation, the Russian population in Estonia grew from about 23,000 people in 1945 to 475,000 in 1991, and the total Slavic population to 551,000, constituting 35% of the total population at its peak.

Of the estimated 20,000 Russians remaining in Estonia, the majority belonged to the historical community of Old Believers.The population of Russians in Estonia is estimated at 320,000, most of whom live in the urban areas of Harju and Ida-Viru counties.Estonia has a 300-year old history of small-scale settlement by Russian Old Believers along Lake Peipus.The authorities carried out repressions against many prominent ethnic Russians activists and White emigres in Estonia.After Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941, the Baltics quickly fell under German control.In 1217, an allied Ugaunian-Novgorodian army defended the Ugaunian stronghold of Otepää from the German knights.

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