Perhaps the most brutal chapter of the violence came in September 2004, when Chechen guerrillas stormed a school in Beslan, a city in neighboring North Ossetia. The ensuing siege left 334 dead, including 186 children.
Kochigina was a teenager at the height of the conflict. Although nearly a decade has passed since the incident in Beslan, many Russians still tend to think of Chechnya as a dangerous region dominated by terrorists.
An October 2012 report from the nonprofit International Crisis Group highlights the violence that has raged in Russia's North Caucasus region, including Chechnya. The report calls it the deadliest conflict in Europe today and points to the lack of rule of law, ethnic identity issues and the growth of fundamentalist Islam as key factors in the conflict.
But Kochigina said she isn't convinced the Boston bombings were related to Islam or conflicts in the North Caucasus, noting that the brothers had been in the United States for more than a decade before the incidents, and that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect, is a U.S. citizen.
No religion or ethnicity has a monopoly on violence, Kochigina said. Adam Lanza, the suspect in last year's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., wasn't a Muslim, she said.
“It's not about religion,” she said. “It's about something that's inside.”