President Shimon Peres took part in a ceremony marking the opening of a museum in Latvia dedicated to a couple who saved some 50 Jews from extermination.

The museum in downtown Riga, Latvia's capital, is located next to the property once owned by Zanis Lipke, a port worker who together with his wife hid Jews in an underground pit measuring some 9 square meters.

The three-story museum resembles an overturned ship and is designed to give visitors a claustrophobic sense of life in a tiny bunker.

In 1966, Yad Vashem, the museum and research institution in Jerusalem that safeguards the memory of Jews who perished in the Holocaust, recognized Zanis and Johana Lipke as rescuers of Jews.

Peres took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday with his Latvian counterpart, Andris Berzins.

Bergins had only last week confirmed his participation in the ceremony, following pressure over what senior Israeli officials described as his apparent reluctance to attend the memorial. The officials said they believed that the Latvian president did not want to appear to be taking responsibility for acts committed by the Nazis, together with local collaborators.