(L-R) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus and U.S. President Barack Obama pose for a group photo prior to the signing new START treaty in Prague on April 8, 2010. UPI Photo/Alex Natin. | License Photo
WASHINGTON, April 22 (UPI) -- Many are confusing the Czech Republic, a country in Central Europe, with Chechnya, 2,000 miles away and part of the Russian Federation, an official says.
When it was announced the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, the Tsarnaev brothers, were of Chechen ethnicity, many on social media believed the two countries were one in the same, ABC News reported.
The Czech Republic is a small, highly industrialized country of 10 million bordered by Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia with a per capita income of $27,190. Czechs are mostly Roman Catholic and Protestant.
Chechnya, a federal subject of Russia, is a smaller country of 1 million, which is largely rural and has a per capita income of about $4,300. Islam is the predominant religion in Chechnya, but there are some Russian Orthodox.
Petr Gandalovic, Czech ambassador to the United States, stepped in to clear up the social media confusion and made a statement:
"As many I was deeply shocked by the tragedy that occurred in Boston earlier this month. It was a stark reminder of the fact that any of us could be a victim of senseless violence anywhere at any moment.
"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 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.
"As the President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman noted in his message to President Obama, the Czech Republic is an active and reliable partner of the United States in the fight against terrorism. We are determined to stand side-by-side with our allies in this respect, there is no doubt about that," Gandalovic said.