- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Czech ambassador is repeating himself: The Czech Republic is not absolutely not Chechnya.

Ambassador Petr Gandalovic delivered that message last week in Washington and Texas after ignorant Internet users confused the Czech Republic the democratic Central European nation with the Russian region of Chechnya, the native land of the Boston Marathon bombers.

After reports began showing up on social media sites, the ambassador tried to clear up the confusion.

“The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two very different entities,” he said in a statement released by the Czech Embassy.


One fundamental difference is that the Czech Republic is a nation of 10 million citizens who mostly profess no religious affiliation, while Chechnya is a region in Russia of about 1.2 million people who are overwhelmingly Muslim. The region has been racked by separatist wars that have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives since 1994.

Mr. Gandalovic did note that town of West, Texas, does have ties to the Czech Republic.

Most of the residents of the town of fewer than 3,000 residents where a fertilizer plant exploded Wednesday, have Czech heritage.

“This is basically a Czech city,” the ambassador told KLTV news in Texas. “The families have over 70 percent [Czech origin]. They have Czech names, and they maintain Czech festivities.”

He noted that the news of the explosion that killed 14 and injured about 200 has been “all over the news” in the Czech Republic.

Mr. Gandalovic, who is expected back in Washington on Monday, even felt the need to reiterate the difference between the Czech Republic and Chechnya.

“I wish to stress this is the Czech Republic, a country in Central Europe and your ally,” he said.

DIPLOMATIC TRAFFIC

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Monday

President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo of Somaliland. He addresses the Atlantic Council.

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