Russian immigrants in Dallas express shock at nationality of Boston bombing suspects

[Dallas, Texas] Russian immigrant Natasha Ksendzoff of Dallas said that terrorism has no nationality.

She is a translator of the many cultures of the ex-Soviet Union, explaining religious differences and atheism under Communist rule and the many ethnic groups of the region.

“People are devastated, and I am devastated, too,” said Ksendzoff, who runs an accredited Russian language school in Dallas. “It is such a terrible thing for terror to happen.”

The communities of the former Soviet Union in Dallas are large enough to sustain three Russian Orthodox churches. Many immigrants are Jewish. A small minority of Russia is Muslim, and many are clustered in Chechnya, but several Russian immigrants said they have rarely met a Chechen here.

“It puts a negative image on the community, and we feel responsible,” Ksendzoff said. “I am an American citizen now. My heart is also there.”

“Russians, just as Americans here, don’t understand why it happened,” said Nadya Tatsch, leader of a Eurasian organization and operator of a Russian cultural school in Allen.

Friday, an assistant to Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez reached out to Anne Marie Weiss, the director of DFW International Community Alliance, to make contact with the Russian Chechen community with safety concerns, Weiss said. Dallas has a sister city relationship with Saratov, a Russian city of about 1 million that is south of Moscow.

The southern Russian republic of Chechnya is one of the most troubled regions of Russia and filled with old hatreds and divisions. At Southern Methodist University, students tore into its history Friday. Tatiana Zimakova, an SMU professor of Russian studies, spent language classes distilling through the students’ anger and discussing the Boston Marathon.

“It was hard for me to teach today, and everyone had questions,” the Moscow-born professor said. “Many students have no idea where Chechnya is. They blame Russians and don’t understand the conflict. There were two wars there between Russians and Chechens. Questions of security are so important, and we need to know where the conflicts are.”

Leonid Murashkovskiy, a lawyer who emigrated from Kiev, said many in the Russian community are angry about the senseless bombings. “Why would Russians from Chechnya set off a bomb in the United States?”

By Dianne Solis, The Dallas Morning News

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