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Kyrgyzstan's Chechens, Ingush Mark Anniversary Of Deportations

BISHKEK -- Groups of ethnic Chechens and Ingush in Kyrgyzstan have marked the 65th anniversary of the Stalinist deportation of their relatives to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

"We mark this day as a day of sorrow," Alikhan Bojov, leader of the ethnic Ingush nongovernment organization Vainakh, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service on February 23, the second day of ceremonies to honor the victims. "[People] were transported on cattle trains and one in three of them died on the way. After they arrived every other person died -- many people died of hunger, cold, or sickness."

Between 496,000 and 650,000 Chechens and Ingush were forcibly deported from their homes under orders from Josef Stalin and put on trains bound for Kyrgyzstan or Kazakhstan.

About one-third of those reportedly died during the torturous trip to Central Asia.

Some Kyrgyz historians claim that about 137,000 Ingush and Chechens were deported to Kyrgyzstan but that only 102,000 of them were alive by the end of World War II.