Learning more about Chechnya and its current conflict - KCTV5

Learning more about Chechnya and its current conflict

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

The two Boston Marathon bombings suspects have lived in the United States for years, but both men are identified as Chechans. Chechnya is an area many Americans may not know much about, but it is a part of the world with a volatile history.

The ties to Chechnya are one of the few threads people have to go on to learn more about the accused bombers and what could have motivated them. While there's no sign the attacks are connected to a broader movement, the accused brothers grew up during two bloody wars of independence for their ethnic homeland.

The faces of brothers Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev have been broadcast across the country, entering our collective consciousness as police ask everyone to be on the lookout for the second suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

We know they're brothers, we know they're accused of a horrific attack and we know little else, except that they lived for a time near the troubled Russian region of Chechnya, a mostly Muslim area embroiled in conflict for decades with Moscow leaders.

"In 1944, Stalin deported the population of Chechnya to Central Asia, and Syberia, claiming that they had Nazi sympathies. I've seen some speculation that the grandparents of these young men have been affected by that deportation," said University of Missouri-Kansas City assistant professor Rebecca Best.

Best said two more recent wars seeking Chechen independence and failing as well as consistent violence since then have kept the region in turmoil.

"There have been reports of torture being used and so repression has been pretty severe in response to this and the international reaction has been somewhat limited to telling Russia to stop that," Best said.

The suspect still on the loose reportedly posted links on social media recently calling for Chechen independence. But leaders like Secretary of State John Kerry are counseling against drawing broader ties to Chechnya and the region's leader has come out firmly denying any connection with the brothers.

The Chechen leader released a statement, stressing the attacks are not condoned by or connected to his people. He said the brothers grew up in America and their attitudes and beliefs were formed in the U.S.

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