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Russia's Ingushetia Commemorates 1944 Deportation Victims

Chechen WWII Veteran Recalls Deportation To Central Asia
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WATCH: Chechen WWII Veteran Recalls Deportation To Central Asia (video published in 2014)

Residents of the Russian region of Ingushetia are commemorating the victims of the Soviet Union's 1944 deportation of Ingush and Chechens from the North Caucasus.

The head of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, in an address to the Ingush people on February 23 called the deportation "one of the most tragic pages in the history of the Ingush people."

On February 22, Ingush lawmakers adopted in its first reading a bill banning the glorification of the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, on whose orders the deportation was carried out.

From February 23 to March 9, 1944, the Soviet authorities forcibly deported almost all Ingush and Chechens -- an estimated 650,000 people -- to Central Asia, after accusing them of collaborating with Nazi Germany.

As many as half of the deportees died either on the journey or because of the harsh conditions in which they were forced to live.

In 1957, the survivors were allowed to return to the North Caucasus.

In Chechnya, Moscow-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov in 2012 moved the Day of Grief and Remembrance from February 23 to May 10, the anniversary of the burial of his father, Akhmad Kadyrov, who was killed in a bomb attack in 2004.

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