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Czech Republic is not Chechnya, diplomat points out

Former Czech Republic Agriculture Minister Petr Gandalovic (L) talks with his Belgium's counterpart Sabine Laruelle (R) at the start of a Eu
Former Czech Republic Agriculture Minister Petr Gandalovic (L) talks with his Belgium's counterpart Sabine Laruelle (R) at the start of a Eu

By Jonathan Allen

(Reuters) - Make no mistake: the Czech Republic is not Chechnya. That's a distinction the Czech ambassador to the United States wants to make crystal clear after news emerged that the two suspects in Boston Marathon bombing had Chechen origins.

"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," Petr Gandalovič, the Czech ambassador, wrote on the embassy's website on Friday.

The unusual statement followed a series of Twitter messages from people who apparently struggled to distinguish the two places with similar names.

"Both the guys from the bombing are from the Czech Republic," wrote a geographically challenged user called Courtney Abbott, erroneously placing their origins about 1,500 miles to the west of Chechnya. "Wow," she added.

"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," the ambassador said.

Gandalovič, who said he was shocked by the attack, stressed that "the Czech Republic is an active and reliable partner of the United States in the fight against terrorism."

Chechnya is part of southern Russia's restive Caucasus, which also includes Dagestan, Ingushetia and other predominately Muslim regions that have seen two decades of unrest since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Two ethnic Chechen brothers were suspected in the bombings at the world-famous Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured 167 on Monday.

(Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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