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NAZRAN, Russia -- Russia’s republic of Ingushetia has commemorated the victims of the 1944 deportation of Chechens and Ingush from the North Caucasus.

Sixty-eight years ago, from February 23 to March 9, 1944, Soviet authorities deported the entire Chechen and Ingush population, estimated at up to 650,000 people, to Central Asia on suspicion of collaboration with Nazi Germany.

Up to half of them died either on the journey or in the harsh conditions in which they were forced to live.

In 1957, the survivors began the long journey home after Soviet leaders admitted that the Chechens, Ingush, and other deported peoples were not guilty of the treachery which had been attributed to them.

Commemoration ceremonies and public prayers were held in Ingushetia’s mosques and cemeteries on February 23.

In Chechnya, the commemoration has been moved to May 10.
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