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Russian analysts say they were surprised to hear that the Boston Marathon bombings were originally from Russia’s North Caucuses region.
On Friday morning, three days after the initial bombing, the FBI identified the two bombers as brothers – Zhokhar and Tamerlain Tsarnaev, 19 and 26, respectively – from an area near Chechnya in Russia.
Peter Lavelle, a senior Moscow-based journalist and the host of CrossTalk, a debate programme on the Russia Today TV network, says he was truly surprised to hear of the Russian connection, but cautioned that there is still no information on the motivation behind the Boston bombing.
“Were they motivated by religious extremism? Maybe they were simply anti-globalists. Does their country of birth play a role? At this point there are more questions than answers,” Lavelle said.
Although there has been no official reaction from Russian authorities, the press secretary of the head of Russia’s Republic of Chechnya told the Interfax news agency, downplayed connections between the Tsarnaev brother and the North Caucuses.
“The persons in question haven’t lived in Chechnya in their mature years and if they became ‘bad guys’ it’s the responsibility of those who raised them,” press secretary Alvin Karimov was quoted by Interfax as saying.
High school friends of the brothers say the two have been the US for at least seven years, but their uncle, who has recently become the focus of much media attention, says they have been in the US at least since 2003.
In the hours after it was revealed that the brothers originated from Chechnya, US media began to try and make a connection between the brothers, the Boston Marathon bombings, and anti-Russian operations mounted by Chechen groups in the past decade.
Vasily Belozerov, head of the political science department at Moscow State Linguistics University, says Russia as a state is definitely not involved in the Boston bombings.
“Terrorism is a global phenomenon, not dependent on where the terrorists are located, they can have any origins. For the US government and public it should be clear that those Chechens are not fighters for freedom, but criminals threatening the US, Russia and any other country,” Belozerov told TBP.
On Friday afternoon, the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC reiterated a previous message from President Vladimir Putin through its Twitter account:
In the message of condolences to B.Obama following the attack in #Boston V.Putin said that Russia’s ready to assist the U.S. authorities
In the meantime, some analysts are seeing a global link between the Boston Marathon bombings and US policy in Syria and other areas where it is apparently backing Islamist forces.
“What we see in the Boston Marathon bombing is yet another tragic case of blowback from cynical US political and covert support for Islamic fundamentalism to further their geopolitical interests,” says Mark Sleboda, a senior lecturer and researcher on the subjects of international relations and security studies in the department of international relations and centre for conservative studies in the sociology faculty of Moscow State University.
“In this case, their [US] support of Wahhabism in Chechnya in the 1990’s, but very similar to the result of US support for the Afghan mujahedin in the 1980’s, and their support of Salafism in Libya and Syria today. The US still grants political asylum to the Chechen terrorist leader Ilyas Akhmadov,” Sleboda says.
The Chechen presidency reacted to media reports late Friday.
The Wall Street Journal said Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov denied that his government or his security apparatus were in any way involved in the Boston bombings or the alleged perpetrators.
“Any real Chechen is not capable of this, they do not bomb people,” he said. “They may defend their homes and their country, but they are not terrorists. Those who have left here may be different.”
Dmitry Babich, political commentator for the Voice of Russia, says that analysis of the situation should avoid repeating the simplistic formulas about Russian “brutality” during the Chechen wars in 1994-2001.
“The US should better pay more attention to the kind of people that it supports abroad (for example, Syrian Islamist fighters) and to the kind of people who get asylum in the United States (Chechen Islamist fighters). Then a repeat of the Boston tragedy will indeed become impossible,” Babich said.
By Daria Chernyshova for The BRICS Post