When Anna Kochigina heard about the two bombings that rocked the Boston Marathon last month, she was naturally alarmed.
But days later, when she learned that the two suspects came to the United States from her home country of Russia, she was horrified.
Russia is famous for cultural figures like Fyodor Dostoevski and Anton Chekhov. She hated to see her country associated with violence, she said.
But Kochigina, 23, said she's concerned people were too quick to connect the bombings with suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's ties to the Russian republic of Chechnya.
“I don't believe it does relate to any nationality,” she said.
The Tsarnaev brothers, suspects in the two bombings that killed three people near the finish line of the Boston Marathon last month, were ethnic Chechens, although neither brother lived in Chechnya. Reports have said the family lived for years in Kyrgyzstan and Dagestan, another republic in the North Caucasus, before coming to the United States.
Kochigina, who originally came from near Moscow, graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma in December. Although she grew up more than 1,000 miles from Chechnya and doesn't have personal connections there, Kochigina said much of the country still bears the wounds of Russia's ongoing conflict with Chechen separatists.
Chechnya has been marked by sporadic violence since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Muslim rebels have clashed with Russian troops on a number of occasions, including a 2002 incident in which security officers stormed a rebel-held theater in Moscow, killing the rebel commander. The incident left 130 hostages dead.