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Boston Revives Trauma for Chechens in U.S.

The long suffering of the Chechens

(Corrects date of Chechen president's election to 1997 in eighth paragraph.)
The identification of Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev as suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings focuses attention on the troubled history of Chechnya and the legacy of its recent wars with Russia. As the investigation continues and we learn more about the circumstances and motivations of the bombers it is important that we also hear the voices of ordinary Chechens who struggle to overcome the trauma of violence and exile and lead normal lives in the U.S.

The Tsarnaev brothers were born in Kyrgyzstan, a country in Central Asia that, like Chechnya, had been part of the Soviet Union. In 1944, Joseph Stalin ordered the deportation of the entire Chechen nation -- almost 1 million people -- from the North Caucasus to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. The Chechens had been falsely accused of collaborating with the Nazis, and were branded an enemy nation. About one third of the deportees died of cold, hunger and disease in Central Asia, where they lived in detainment camps similar to those of the Soviet gulag.