Boston Marathon Suspect: Seven Things You Need To Know About Chechnya, Russia (PICTURES)
Paul Vale— The Huffington Post UK
The two suspects in the Boston bombing have been identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his brother Dzhokhar, 19. Tamerlan was killed on Friday morning in a standoff with the police, while Dzhokhar remains at large. Both are believed to have come from the region of Chechnya in Russia, an area that has suffered a turbulent history with Moscow. Here are seven facts about the region of Chechnya in the Caucasus.
Chechnya, an oil-rich region in the south of the Russian Republic, has a long history of tension with Moscow, dating back to the middle of the 19th century.
Subsumed into the Soviet empire in 1922 after a brief period of independence following the 1917 revolution, the region suffered heavily during Stalin’s purges, finally declaring independence after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Smoke rise from a destroyed building in Moscow in 1999, an attack quickly blamed on Chechen militants
In the chaos following the end of the empire, Chechnya was overrun with armed gangs, defiant against Moscow’s growing anger over claims to independence. Russia sent in forces, but losses were heavy, and a peace agreement was reached in 1996.
In 1999, a huge bomb blew up an apartment block in Moscow, an attack which was quickly blamed on Chechen militants.
The same year, an Islamic body in neighbouring Dagestan declared independence from Moscow, emphasising their desire to set up an Islamic state. Chechen rebels crossed the border to support their neighbours, under the banner of a Holy War.
A Russian soldier lies dead as Chechen fighters gather next to a tank outside the presidential palace in 1994
Putin supressed the rebellion within a couple of weeks, however sporadic hostilities continue to this day, with Moscow arguing that the Chechen fighters are part of the global jihad against the West.
Elections were held in 2005, with a pro-Russia party winning a majority. The rebels subsequently dismissed the victory, however Moscow has invested heavily in the reconstruction of the capital Grozny and an uneasy peace remains.