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Dead Boston bombing suspect was a citizen of Kyrgyzstan and Russia

April 23, 2013|By Sergei L. Loiko
  • Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a Feb. 17, 2010, photo.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a Feb. 17, 2010, photo. (Associated Press )

MOSCOW -- Suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was already a citizen of two other countries when he applied for a U.S. passport that was delayed because of charges of domestic violence.

The older of the two brothers suspected in the attack last Monday used a passport issued by Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic where he and his family once lived, for international travel, according to his mother. And he was also a Russian citizen.

When he returned to Russia from the United States in early 2012 to visit his father in Dagestan, a Russian republic in the North Caucasus region, he applied for a Russian internal passport to replace one he reported as lost. Russian citizens have internal passports, which are their main form of identification inside the country; the government issues external passports for foreign travel.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s mother said he never possessed an external Russian passport.

Gusein Zulfikarov, deputy chief of the Russian federal immigration service’s Dagestan branch said Tsarnaev’s original internal passport was issued in 2001.

“He stated in an application that he lost his Russian [internal] passport in Boston, paid a 300-ruble [$10] fine and compiled all the necessary papers, but never showed up to pick up his new passport," Zulfikarov told the Interfax news service. “We have his passport now.”

Officials will hold on to such passports for three years if not claimed, he said.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed during a shootout with police early Friday. His brother, Dzhokar, 19, was captured Friday evening. Dzhokhar could not be issued an internal Russian passport because he was not yet 14, the minimum age for receiving one, when the family immigrated to the U.S.

Dzhokar Tsarnaev became a U.S. citizen last September. Tamerlan was a permenant U.S. resident and had applied for citizenship. But the application was under review. Officials were aware that he had been charged with domestic violence against a girlfriend, and that the FBI had interviewed him at the request of Russian authorities, who suspected that he was getting involved in Islamic militant circles.   

Relatives said the family had lived in Kyrgyzstan, where many ethnic Chechens were exiled by Stalin, until shortly after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. They moved briefly to Chechnya, but returned to Kyrgyzstan as fighting broke out between Chechen separatists and the Russian military. The family then moved to Dagestan, which borders Chechnya, before leaving for the U.S.

Zubeidat Tsarnaev, the mother of the two suspects, said in an interview Sunday that they both had entered the U.S. on Kyrgyzstan passports.


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