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If the Kremlin is looking for a quick diplomatic gain, it can stop trying to pressure the 3,500 Koreans living on Sakhalin island to become Soviet or North Korean citizens - and let them return to South Korea. They are among thousands who were recruited by Japan to work in the island's coal mines during World War II and left stranded when the USSR seized Sakhalin after the war. Now the Japanese are asking the United Nations to help the elderly Koreans get to South Korea.

Moscow wants not to offend communist North Korea, which opposes a repatriation southward. But this petty-minded oppression of other peoples offends most of mankind.

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