News / Europe

Boston Accusations Shock Brothers' Former Kyrgyz Hometown

A truck drives past a sign at the entrance to the Kyrgyz city of Tokmok, April 20, 2013.
A truck drives past a sign at the entrance to the Kyrgyz city of Tokmok, April 20, 2013.
Reuters
One trail in the search for clues about why two ethnic Chechen brothers may have carried out the Boston Marathon bombings leads to a sleepy town in Kyrgyzstan where   
Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are remembered as decent and obedient boys from their time in the 1990s in the small community of Chechens in Tokmok, a leafy town under the snow-capped Tien Shan mountains outside the capital Bishkek.
    
Tamerlan, the elder of the two, studied well. His father, Anzor, made a living selling used cars and was welcomed with open arms when he visited the town again two years ago, 10 years after the family left for Russia and then the United States.

The news that Tamerlan had been shot dead by police and Dzhokhar captured after a day-long manhunt on suspicion of carrying out Monday's bombing, in which three people were killed, was greeted with shock and disbelief.

This combination of undated photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19.This combination of undated photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19.
x
This combination of undated photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19.
This combination of undated photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19.
"The Tsarnaevs were such a good family. They yearned to be well-educated. None of them were rowdy. It was a very cultured family," said former neighbor Raisa Kaayeva, a middle-aged housewife who is also an ethnic Chechen.
    
"I feel it with my heart - these boys were framed. Why did they go to this America? They should have stayed in Russia to lead a quiet life. Now they have been made scapegoats. I pity these boys. I was weeping when I saw it on TV - their lives were broken, as well as the lives of their mother and father."
    
Badrudi Tsokayev, a friend of the father, waved his hands repeatedly as he described his shock at hearing the news. Like others who recalled the family, he saw no signs of radicalism.
    
"I wouldn't imagine seeing this even in a nightmare," Tsokayev, 60, said on a quiet street in Tokmok, 60 km (38 miles) from Bishkek. "As a child, Tamerlan was such a quiet boy. Today everyone is calling me with just one question - is this true?"
    
He said Anzor Tsarnaev had been fiercely proud of Tamerlan's prowess in the boxing ring and said his son had been looking forward to going to the Russian city of Sochi to watch the 2014 Winter Olympics next February.
    
Chechen diaspora

    
It is in this town of 53,000 that the boys would have become aware of their Chechen roots. Dzhokhar, now 19, years later posted links to Islamic websites and others calling for Chechen independence on what appears to be his page on a Russian language social networking site.
    
They would have learned about the difficult fate suffered by their predecessors in Soviet times that has fostered a sense of injustice among some Chechens and helped fuel an independence drive in the Chechnya region of Russia's North Caucasus that led to two wars with Moscow in the 1990s.
    
Kyrgyzstan, a mainly Muslim nation of 5.5 million which hosts U.S. and Russian military air bases, had a huge influx of ethnic Chechens in 1944.
    
Hundreds of thousands of Chechens and ethnically close Ingush were evicted from their homes in the North Caucasus and moved to Central Asia in cattle wagons after being accused by dictator Josef Stalin of collaborating with Nazi Germany.

About 99,000 of the Chechens and Ingush ended up in what was then the Kyrgyz Soviet republic.
    
The house formerly inhabited by Boston bomb suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Kyrgyz city of Tokmok, Apr. 20, 2013.The house formerly inhabited by Boston bomb suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Kyrgyz city of Tokmok, Apr. 20, 2013.
x
The house formerly inhabited by Boston bomb suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Kyrgyz city of Tokmok, Apr. 20, 2013.
The house formerly inhabited by Boston bomb suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Kyrgyz city of Tokmok, Apr. 20, 2013.
In Tokmok, the Tsarnaev clan alone inhabited a whole street before most of them moved back to their native village of Chiri-Yurt in Chechnya in the 1960s, residents said. About 20 Chechen families still live in a district popularly known as the Glass Factory, after the building that dominates it.

School registry
    
The brothers would have become more familiar with Islamist militancy when they moved in 2001 to Dagestan, the southern Russian province which lies at the heart of an Islamist insurgency and sees daily violence, and where their parents still live.
    
In Tokmok, they lived in a modest brick house before moving to a more spacious, two-story house opposite School No. 1 in the town center, where Tamerlan and his two sisters studied.
    
A school registry contains information on Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (number 11 in the list) who studied at local school number one in Makhachkala, Apr. 19, 2013.A school registry contains information on Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (number 11 in the list) who studied at local school number one in Makhachkala, Apr. 19, 2013.
x
A school registry contains information on Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (number 11 in the list) who studied at local school number one in Makhachkala, Apr. 19, 2013.
A school registry contains information on Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (number 11 in the list) who studied at local school number one in Makhachkala, Apr. 19, 2013.
A school register shows Tamerlan's date of birth - Oct. 21, 1986 - and the date when he entered the fifth grade, Jan. 18, 1999. He studied here for a year.
    
Dzhokhar, born in 1993, was too young to go to school at the time.
    
"Yes, the Tsarnaevs studied here. I wouldn't say they were anti-social or anything like that. No, I can't say so," said school headmistress Lyubov Shulzhenko.
    
"The Chechen community here is so closely-knit and decent. We have never had problems with their children," said Natalia Ryabovol, a physics teacher.
    
In the Soviet era, Tokmok hosted a busy base which trained military pilots for pro-Soviet countries stretching from eastern Europe to Africa. A Soviet-made jet fighter is perched on a pedestal at the town's entrance.
    
Many of the townspeople today make a living by growing fruit and vegetables and tending cattle. The attack in Boston seems part of another world.
    
Kyrgyzstan, which borders China, is politically fragile after the toppling of two presidents since 2005. It says it cannot be held responsible for the brothers' actions.
    
"Taking into account the fact that the suspects left the republic when they were eight and 15 years old, the State Committee for National Security considers it inappropriate to link them to Kyrgyzstan," the Kyrgyz security service said.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid