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Today most Russians live in Tallinn and the major northeastern cities of Narva, Kohtla-Järve, Jõhvi, and Sillamäe.The rural areas are populated almost entirely by ethnic Estonians, except for Lake Peipus coast, which has a long history of Old Believers communities.Novgorodian prince Vyachko died in 1224 with all his druzhina defending the fortress of Tarbatu together with his Ugaunian and Sackalian allies against the Livonian Order led by Albert of Riga.Orthodox churches and small communities of proto-Russian merchants and craftsmen remained in Livonian towns as did close trade links with the Novgorod Republic and the Pskov and Polotsk principalities.In 2011, University of Tartu sociology professor Marju Lauristin found that 21% were successfully integrated, 28% showed partial integration, and 51% were unintegrated or little integrated.The restored republic recognised citizenship only for the pre-occupation citizens or descendants from such (including the long-term Russian settlers from earlier influxes, such as Lake Peipus coast and the 10,000 residents of the Petseri County), rather than to grant Estonian nationality to all Estonian-resident Soviet citizens.
Under Russian rule, power in the region remained primarily in the hands of the Baltic German nobility, but a limited number of administrative jobs was gradually taken over by Russians, who settled in Reval (Tallinn) and other major towns.
In the course of violent population transfers, thousands of Estonian citizens were deported to the interior parts of Russia (mostly Siberia), and huge numbers of Russian-speaking Soviet citizens were encouraged to settle in Estonia.
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.
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.
During the Singing Revolution, the Intermovement, International Movement of the Workers of the ESSR, organised the indigenous Russian resistance to the independence movement and purported to represent the ethnic Russians and other Russophones in Estonia.