Karachais in Russia's North Caucasus region of Karachayevo-Cherkesia have marked the 75th anniversary of their mass deportation to Central Asia by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
Prayers in the region's mosques on November 2 were dedicated to those who died during the Karachais' deportation to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan between 1943 and 1957.
Karachayevo-Cherkesia's leader Rashid Temrezov, Prime Minister Aslan Ozov, and parliament speaker Aleksandr Ivanov, issued a joint statement on November 2, calling the deportation "a monstrous injustice that lasted 14 years.”
The statement praised Karachai elderlies who survived the deportation and were able "to preserve dignity, language, traditions, and culture," and managed to return back to the North Caucasus in the 1950s.
Karachais are a small, Turkic-speaking, and predominantly Muslim ethnic group.
They were the first ethnic group in the North Caucasus deported by the Soviet regime in the 1940s.
Between November 2-5, 1943, some 70,000 Karachais were deported in cattle train cars to Central Asia by Moscow, which accused them of collaborating with Nazi Germany.
According to unofficial estimates, about a quarter of those deported perished during the journey.
Those who survived deportation were allowed to return back to the North Caucasus in 1957.