Czech Republic Forced to Remind the Internet That Chechnya Is in Different Country After Boston Bombing

Twitter and Facebook filled with false reports that Boston bombing suspects were Czech

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Suspects sought in the Boston Marathon bombings on April 18, 2013, later identified as Tamarlan, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

“War,” Ambrose Bierce said, “is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.” But despite all the lessons learned during the long-running “war on terror,” Americans could probably use a little more instruction. The Czech embassy issued a statement following the attacks to clarify that the two Boston bombing suspects actually traced their roots to Chechnya, not the Czech Republic, after waves of anti-Czech rhetoric swamped social media.

Expletive-filled postings on Twitter and Facebook were common, along with milder comments such as “So the Boston bombers were 19-year-old Russians of Czech descent … Why lord?” and “The guys that bombed Boston were Czech. What is it 1980?”

(WATCH: Boston Bombing Suspect Shootout Video)

So much vitriolic anti-Czech sentiment was aired online that one Tumblr user compiled a “shame list” of erroneous hateful comments. And it was not only social-media users getting confused; a former CIA agent commenting on the manhunt for CNN also got the two territories mixed up live on air.

Petr Gandalovic, the Czech Republic’s ambassador to the U.S., was naturally keen to clear up the confusion. “As more information on the origin of the alleged perpetrators is coming to light, I am concerned to note in the social media a most unfortunate misunderstanding in this respect,” he said in a statement. “The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two very different entities — the Czech Republic is a Central European country; Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation.”

(PHOTOS: U.S. Newspapers Lead With Explosions at Boston Marathon Finish Line)

Embarrassed Twitter users have been quick to delete posts as their folly was uncovered. And spoof media site The Daily Currant even produced its own satirical report of a Fox News interview in which former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin insists that invading the Czech Republic is the only course of action open to the U.S.

To clarify, Chechens are an ethnic group occupying a small territory in Russia’s North Caucasus region, sandwiched between the Black and Caspian seas and around 1,600 km south of Moscow. The population of 1.2 million is overwhelmingly Muslim and three civil wars have been waged by separatist rebels over the past two decades. Chechen groups have also claimed responsibility for several terrorist attacks in Moscow in recent years.

The Czech Republic is one of two countries formed when Czechoslovakia split in 1993 — the other being Slovakia — and has been a member of the E.U. since 2004. Formerly part of the Soviet bloc, Czechs are one of the least religious peoples in the world; the largest organized faith, Roman Catholicism, is followed by just 10% of the population. Chechnya and the Czech Republic are about 3,200 km apart.

PHOTOS: Tragedy in Boston: One Photographer’s Eyewitness Account

46 comments
JohnDeBoer
JohnDeBoer

I hope the Czech Republic and Slovakia re-unite.

somethintwit
somethintwit

i don't get it ? so she said it was Czech republic but in reality the ambassadors of the US went to Chechnya to speak with the parents of bombers? she probably heard them talking about it but was deaf enough to confuse Czech with Chechnya 


DF
DF

Was Tamerlane a Chechynean?  I remember seeing his grave in Samarkand in the 80's. He was a hero, but apparantly a tyrant.   Not sure what moved me to go there in the 80's.  

newotark
newotark

Any Russian will say you that Czechs are not better then Chechens - so, who cares?

MarktaBernkov
MarktaBernkov

The attackers are from Chechnya and in Russia, and not from the Czech Republic in Europe!!!! Please learn geography!

I thank Markéta Czech Republic Europe

CorcoranJacque
CorcoranJacque

OMG! are people really that uniformed.  Two totally separate entities with no similarity whatsoever and thousands of miles apart. 

Don't waste space on that kind of information...or whatever you call it... 


epitygxanwn
epitygxanwn

The author of the article might know his geography well enough, but the author of the headline does not. Chechnya is not "a different country". It is IN a different country. The difference is important, since there is a separatist movement over there, one that wants to separate from Russia, even though Chechnya would then be completely surrounded by Russia (except for a very short border with Georgia).

FranWebb
FranWebb

I wonder if this is part of the concern over the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. West is a lovely little Czech community with awesome people. I sincerely hope the explosion there was not due to some criminal attack. Some people get Czechoslavakia confused with Chechnya I suppose because they think one is a shortened version of the other...not sure but I think that is what is happening. Fortunately most of us know the difference. To those who lost loved ones in West and in Boston, my sincere sympathy and prayers.

SandraAnkenbrand
SandraAnkenbrand

HAHAHA - and then they wonder why everybody thinks americans are stupid... They really should think about reforming their school system...

smardajk
smardajk

The Czech Republic is in Central Europe, not Eastern Europe.  Charlie Campbell should know this, as he cited Petr Gandalovič's statement clarifying the location of the Czech Republic. 

j.guitar80
j.guitar80

@newotark and who cares what Russians say about Czech people? Czechs are peaceful, civilized  and don't bother anyone unlike Americans and Russians. And they brew the best beer in the world... again unlike Americans and Russians. 

erric300
erric300

@BernieGolombGeorge W. Bush his father President George H.W. Bush why are they still enjoying life after destroying america beside killing so many americans and people around the world in useless propaganda wars.Zionism control Hostile media. 

We're still creating more enemies than there otherwise would have been, but for our continued, senseless incursions into foreign countries. By supporting the use of drones in foreign countries, you are essentially supporting the perpetuation of decades and decades of failed foreign policy, a foreign policy that has made the world more dangerous, not safer.A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.

joec70424352
joec70424352

The author wrote "in different country" not "a different country."

RanchMubay
RanchMubay

@SandraAnkenbrand Most knew it wasn't the Czech Republic.  Among 300 Million people its not unusual to have a few thousand think the moon is made of green cheese.  That's true in the U.S. or any part of the world.  More importantly, there's a complete openness in the U.S. to information so that errors or misrepresentation don't remain very long as opposed to many countries where the press and government are intertwined.  Reforming the school system?  The U.S. is still the number one choice in the world for students to get an education, by a long shot.

RanchMubay
RanchMubay

@smardajk I'm not going to harp on that error since until relatively recent years Czechoslovakia was a Communist state within the Eastern Bloc and that's where the slip up came, but a logical slip, between Eastern Bloc and Eastern Europe.  The country along with East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria were satellite states of the Soviet Union.  Someone who would point out his error as ignorance suggests that they really don't have much of a history of the region.  Names and references change over years and you will find out things you learn today will be the references you use in later years.  Its is all relative, and though Czechoslovakia is categorized as part of Central Europe, their recent history has been part of the Eastern Bloc and abutted the Soviet Union.  The fact is that those that live on the eastern edge of Czechoslovakia (if not most of the country geographically) are much more culturally aligned with Eastern Europe and those on the western edge with Central Europe.  This is important because Checknya has been categorized as part of Russia, which it is, but culturally, because where they are geographically, they are more aligned with the nomadic Muslim cultures of the Middle East which don't consider allegiance toward borders as they do nomadic territories, as opposed to the goose-stepping cold war Russians we might be familiar with.  So it is more accurate to study Checknya as part of the region that includes the mountainous northern regions of the middle east and it is still relevant to study Czechoslovakia as part of the former eastern bloc. 


TomSemini
TomSemini

@smardajk it's a tricky one. There are numerous definitions for 'eastern' europe. Some based on strict geographical groupings, others on cultural and Political considerations. Linguistically, and historically the Czech Republic is still very much eastern europe. The UN's territorial divisions include the CR as eastern Europe.

joec70424352
joec70424352

Are you joking? Are you Czech? Have you lived in the Czech Republic? They are some of the most negative, whiny, rude people I've ever encountered. They want to be westernized but don't want change. They want foreign investment but don't like foreigners. They are xenophobic, unfriendly and have no idea what it means to have a service industry. Of course, not all Czechs, but since you seem to like generalizations, there it is.

BernieGolomb
BernieGolomb

@ERRIC300

Muslims were our enemies starting soon after Independence, Muslims were capturing and killing American sailors. This was before Israel, before drones, before any of the Bushes, before we "stole" their oil, before any of that. The world was made dangerous the day Mohammed was born.

Nothing the US does or has done or will do will change this essential truth: we will be a target of Islamic attacks because we, as the strongest nation among the infidels, are the greatest impediment to a global caliphate. 

Muslims who attack us laugh at people like you, Muslim apologists, who believe that we did something to initiate these attacks.

In 1786 Thomas Jefferson and John Adams went to London to speak with Tripoli's Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdrahaman. Jefferson and Adams asked the Ambassador how can Muslims make war on the US, a nation that has done nothing to them? The Ambassador replied:

"It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise."


SandraAnkenbrand
SandraAnkenbrand

Well, regarding the Universities you are right... But only if you have money... The public school system is a mess - sorry to say, but I also lived in the states and met loads of nice people there, but regarding international news and knowledge most US People are ignorant and far more than in any other country (have been living in 6 incl. arabian countries during the 70s

JanŽidleSkříňPásztor
JanŽidleSkříňPásztor

@RanchMubay @SandraAnkenbrand What about Britain? American school system is a mess. I am not talking about universities, some of them are very famous and providing very good education. But most people in the USA have very bad level of education..

smardajk
smardajk

@RanchMubay @smardajk

My father, Vladislav, and I had a good laugh over your arrogant comment that “someone who would point out his error as ignorance suggests” that “they [sic] don’t have much history of the region.”

We are well aware that the former Czechoslovakia was a “satellite” of the Soviet Union.We are also aware, however, that the Czechs have a rich “pre-Soviet” history.From the Boii tribe to Karel IV to Jan Hus to Antonín Dvořák to Franz Kafka to Tomáš Masaryk to Milan Kundera, we are aware.And, even in the face of the Czech ambassador calling the country “Central,” the author of this article presumptuously overruled the ambassador and called it “Eastern,” as though he knew better.  That is the conduct with which I take issue.  I was concerned that the author was acting like too many Americans, who only recognize four places in Europe:France, Italy, Germany (so, vaguely, any place where German or even a Scandinavian language is spoken), and “Eastern Europe” (i.e., Boratland, to many Americans).

We also know that certain characteristics present in many “Eastern” countries/cultures are conspicuously absent from the Czech Republic.For instance, the Cyrillic alphabet and power (albeit diminishing) of the Russian or Greek Orthodox churches are absent. Also, Prague was at one point the seat of the Holy Roman Empire and spent hundreds of years under Hapsburg rule.These, at least during the course of my studies, have served as indicia (although not perfect indicia) of non-“Eastern” roots.That is only a brief synopsis of my argument for why the Czech Republic is culturally Central European, not Eastern European.   What is yours for the opposing argument?   You do nothing more than make a conclusory, unsupported statement (while suggesting that I am ignorant, mind you) that “those that live on the eastern edge of Czechoslovakia [a country that, I must point out, no longer exists] (if not most of the country geographically) are much more culturally aligned with Eastern Europe and those on the western edge with Central Europe.”

You might be right, but you did nothing to even casually support your assertion (although I don’t know if you mean the edges of Czechoslovakia or the edges of the Czech Republic).So, to me, you just waltzed in here to exert intellectual superiority, and to strongly suggest that others are ignorant, while doing nothing to back up what you said.   I did not call the author, or anyone, ignorant.  I simply pointed out that Campbell contradicted Petr Gandalovič, a person who (I guess, based at least on his name and diplomatic title) would know more about Czechs than Charlie Campbell.

premek.rak
premek.rak

@TomSemini@smardajkWrong! The Czech Republic was part of the Central European community for hundreds of years! European history is not made only by 40 years of post-war era. The Czech land had have history with Germany, Austria and Roma Empire for hundreds of years and this shaped the culture and people who live there today. The Czech Republic is a classical example of Central European community and have nothing to do with Eastern European one apart of the linguistic similarities which is due to its position in the heart of Europe. History is longer than back to 1948. Czechoslovakia was one of the most richest countries in the world prior the war and experienced industrial revolution. Get your facts straight.

clara.alena
clara.alena

@joec70424352

wow this just left me completely baffled. Who are you to judge an entire population by the few you encountered on what was likely a very short visit? Especially when it comes to a country whose history you obviously know absolutely nothing about ( apart from being able to google a few names, good job ). Before the WW1 Czechoslovakia had one of the strongest economies in the World, mind you, quite an achievement for such a small country, but her development hindered after the Soviet occupation that came with the end of the second World War. The great nation of Russia, as you seem to be defending it so much, has made more mistakes in the past than any other country on a global scale, and it is only reasonable for a small country to not want to be wrongly accused of something as horrible as the bombings surely were. The Czechs have every reason to be rather skeptical when welcoming strangers into their country, as some of them still remember welcoming the Soviet's with open arms and not being able to wave them goodbye for almost thirty years after that. I then wonder what might justify your superiority complex, because contrary to what you might believe, being born in America doesn't automatically guarantee awesomeness. If you were as open as you claim to be, you wouldn't be foolishly insulting a nation you know absolutely nothing about. 

joec70424352
joec70424352

Your boring regurgitation of their past or minor feats doesn't change the fact that they are Slavic people and are much closer in culture and sentiment to other Slavic communities to the east of them than any nationality or culture in the west. Just cross the border to Germany or Austria and see the evidence. That you're even comparing Czech to the U.K., which seats one of the most diverse cities in the world, baffles me. The point wasn't that other places are not xenophobic, the point was that Czechs are  not, on the whole, by any means, as you put it, "peaceful, civilized  and don't bother anyone unlike Americans and Russians." A completely erroneous, delusional and unobservant defense of Czechs and an unreasonable, hostile and uncalled for critique of Russians, who belong to a great nation of which only a small percentage is Chechen. It's odd that you even have the galls to draw a comparison to the greatness of the Russian people and especially the Americans, who belong to superpower nations of the 20th century, that have simply dominated in just about every facet of technological advancement, sports, music, cinema, financial and military power, to a teeny tiny central European country that makes beer. Sure, Havel, Capek, Kafka, Mucha, etc. are celebrated but not enough to justify a "superiority complex" if Czechs ever had it. I can think of some good things to say, but since you're drawing sweeping generalizations (and in an oddly defensive and proud way for someone who's not even Czech), the cold, rude and close-mindedness of the people overpower any positives that I've seen, heard, felt, experienced or read about. By the way, there were no negative thoughts about the country or the people until I actually went there, otherwise, I wouldn't have gone in the first place. But the people proved my openness, curiosity and excitement foolish and naive. One caveat is that I did spend most of my time in Prague, and small town people tend to be nicer than Praguers.

DenisaAdair
DenisaAdair

I'm Czech and I want to thank you for the comment on our behalf and mainly for your knowledge of our history. Most do not know our culture very well so they tend to judge and accuse without verifying the facts. After years of oppression and sad history, Czechs are still very much grateful and true to their roots. Peaceful and mostly spiritual people. All my American friends love to spend time in my countr...I guess it must be the beer and women :)

j.guitar80
j.guitar80

@joec70424352I am not Czech but I lived there for some time and I loved it! Especially Prague. Czechs can't be westernized because THEY ARE of the western origin and culture since Prague was the imperial capital of the Holy Roma Empire. 40 years of occupation in the mid 20th Century won't change the fact that Czechs have been part of the western world development for hundred of years (if you understand the concept of western world). I suggest to read the history of Austria - Hungary Empire which included the Kingdom of Bohemia and Moravia (Czech Republic nowadays); the capitalist way of production, the first stock exchange, 1847 the first telegraph connection (Vienna – Brno – Prague), second oldest car manufacturer in Europe (Skoda Auto) all sounds Western rather than Eastern for me. During my stay I haven't encountered more xenophobic and unfriendly behavior than in the UK, France or Norway. Actually, Czechs appears to me less xenophobic than SOME British (aka Daily Mail, English Defense League, etc) and they lack the superiority complex which is present in other Western European nations. I must admit that in general Aussies and Kiwis are more friendly than any European with no doubt. I am aware of the fact that Czechs are not very friendly towards the Roma community, even racist. Unfortunately, from my own experience this is a problem almost everywhere in Europe.

BernieGolomb
BernieGolomb

Also:  Gold is more precious than oil, yet we didn't invade South Africa (which controls most of the world's gold supply) to CONTROL GOLD. When we need it - we buy it. Same as with oil. Same as with any commodity that is available on world markets.

BernieGolomb
BernieGolomb

@chappy715@BernieGolomb

Not one single American oil company snagged even one oil contract with Iraq, they all went to foreign oil companies. If we went to war for their oil, Iraq didn't get the memo.  Give me the name of one company that is extracting oil in Iraq. Otherwise you're blowing smoke up my butt.

But going to war for oil is absurd in modern times.  You are merely repeating an old, liberal canard.  The US buys most of its oil from non-Muslim countries and a lot cheaper. 

As for stealing all their natural resources, you obviously have no idea how resource poor Iraq really is. If we needed to go to war to steal resources we would have made out better invading Canada, it has greater oil production than Iraq, more resources, and many Canadians even speak English making it easier to control them. And best of all the Canadians would not resist. 


By the way, the notion that America would invade Canada for its oil is as absurd as invading any other country for its oil. Why bother?  That would be like me spending a thousand dollars in burglar tools to break into a Walmart to steal a gallon of milk. Isn't it cheaper just to buy the milk?  Are you saying that Iraq was the only country in the world with oil and it refused to sell any to us at any price?  Do you realize how silly that sounds? 

Now go and read some other liberal playbook.

chappy715
chappy715

@BernieGolomb Lets be honest here we invaded Iraq to secure the flow of oil, install a puppet government that would let us enslave the citizens of Iraq, steal all their natural resources, install permanent bases so we can invade other countries that don't agree with our quest for world domination and get rid of Saddam Hussein not because he was a ruthless dictator but because he wasn't our ruthless dictator, and the fact that Dubya wanted revenge for Saddam trying to kill his daddy. Iraq is now ruined we have literally destroyed the country which now average a half dozen car bombings a day in a country that had zero and it will eventually erupt into civil war. Bush and his staff are war criminals and if any other nation in the free world did what our leaders do we would invade the country, capture them and have a show trial for war crimes but since they are our leaders we pretend that everything they did was okay and pretend the rest of the world doesn't notice. It is a classic case of do as we say not as we do. Gitmo and the drone war are classic examples of this. What if another country had been capturing and water boarding our soldiers? It would have been the top news story for months but since we are doing it now somehow torture is okay as long as we do it and not someone else.

SandraAnkenbrand
SandraAnkenbrand

@epitygxanwn @JanŽidleSkříňPásztor @RanchMubay @SandraAnkenbrand  

I'm completely on your side... but look at twitter statements... Sorry, I lived in the US - people are nice, very nice, but education on a public level is very very poor and many people are very ignorant regarding international issues... For example I met more than 10 people who asked me if europe ist still run by Hitler - in the 90ies... in New York City!

MorinaVongsa
MorinaVongsa

I'm American born and raised. Yeah, I think Americans are pretty stupid. Call it a generalization or whatever you want, but stereotypes exist for a reason. I'm not saying all are, but I also don't agree with someone saying our education doesn't need reforming. It does! We may have amazing colleges and universities, but our secondary education is largely lacking. I've been part of the system, I know.

Call me anti American or whatever you want, but it's a fact. I rather say that I'm Asian American instilled with my strong cultural values than I'm a proud American.

epitygxanwn
epitygxanwn

@JanŽidleSkříňPásztor @RanchMubay @SandraAnkenbrand You are missing Ranch's point. If you believe that the abysmal ignorance that lies behind confusing Czech with Chechen in indicative of the state of US education, then you yourself are uneducated, because you are relying on an error in statistical reasoning, the "unrepresentative sample".

Bad as the average education level in the US is, most people know better than to confuse Czech with Chechen.

smardajk
smardajk

@RanchMubay @smardajk I do realize that Kundera is not pre-Soviet.  I must have mentioned him because I just really like Milan Kundera.

TomSemini
TomSemini

@premek.rak @TomSemini @smardajk very understandable mate. Hopefully even the unmitigatedly stupid people out there who confused czech and chechen realise that people are people, and the actions of a few loons are not representative of an entire nation, least of all an ENTIRELY different nation of peole :)

JanŽidleSkříňPásztor
JanŽidleSkříňPásztor

@TomSemini @premek.rak @smardajk Tom, you need to understand, that we like to keep distance from "eastern bloc".SSSR was hated, we dont really like Russia either - eg. there is great rivalry between our sport teams (hockey, etc.).

You write political similarities.We had communist regime but not because we believed in it.

Language? Yes, we have same roots - slavonic. Thats not the deciding point though.

Geographically speaking, we are in the CE, too.

premek.rak
premek.rak

@TomSemini @premek.rak @smardajk my apologize if my response was too harsh. I didn't meant to be hostile. I am just getting a bit tired of so much misinformation on internet about a country I was born to. All my Czech friends and people I know consider themselves to be Central European and they never felt to be Eastern. I have nothing against Eastern Europe, in fact it's a very beautiful part of Europe with its unique culture and people but I don't consider myself being Western European either.

TomSemini
TomSemini

@premek.rak@TomSemini@smardajkwow! That was a little bit hostile. Not sure i was expecting so much vitriol from such an innocuous comment. My facts are relatively straight though as i said, it depends on perspective and how the term is defined. As i also cited the UN include the Czech Republic within Eastern Europe, although i accept that their purpose is different to the layman's usage of the term. The impression given to me by czech members of my family and friends, many of whom grew up in the republic, is that they consider themselves eastern european. Though as stated below this (mis)conception has its roots in the semantical distinction between eastern europe and eastern bloc.

I wasnt saying you were wrong, far from it. I agreed with you. But you clearly have no desire to have a calm rational discussion, just to try to assert some sort of misplaced superiority. Enjoy!