Chechnya Isn’t Czechoslovakia


Czechoslovakia Isn’t Chechnya

April 20, 2013

Allan Stevo

I didn’t post a story to 52 Weeks in Slovakia yesterday, I didn’t send an email out, I posted nothing to Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network yet traffic was massively up and newsletter signups surged. That happens sometimes when an article from 52 Weeks in Slovakia gets noticed and posted in a prominent location, sent out to a big list, or picked up by the traditional media.

This traffic surge was a little different, however. All day I was wondering what the heck the deal was and at about 11 pm I figured it out. On Facebook, I found this – a link to a list if tweets that in some way confused Czechoslovakia and Chechnya.

Traffic was spiking so heavily because people were confusing the ethnically Chechen Boston bombing suspects with the no longer existent country of Czechoslovakia.

To help clear up any confusion, below is a little bit about Chechnya, Czechoslovakia, and the Czech Republic.

Chechnya is…

  • Muslim, largely Sunni to be specific
  • a part of Russia – something that causes a great deal of strife for Russians and Chechens, since Chechnya has a very active separatist movement.
  • 6,680 sq mi in size and was established in its current form January 11, 1991.
  • located in the Caucasus region of Eastern Europe. The Caucasus Mountains form a borderland, with Europe to the North and Asia to the south. This region is at the northern edges of Turkey and Iran and the southern edge of Russia. Many languages and cultures converge there and there is frequent conflict.
  • 1,268,989 people strong (as of 2010) with Grozny as a capital city
  • is overwhelmingly ethnically Chechen by population, with a few Russians, Armenians, and others hanging around
  • is oil-rich, mineral wealthy, and important in Russia’s energy infrastructure. Also of tremendous importance is that Chechnya is significant in holding together Russia’s southern border. If Chechnya seceded from Russia, so goes a commonly held theory stated by the Kremlin, perhaps others in the Caucasus would follow. It cannot be overstated that Chechnya is constantly in a state of conflict with Moscow – sometimes legal, sometimes political, sometimes military.

The Czech Republic is…

  • largely Atheist or non-religious
  • geographically located at the very heart of Europe
  • a country that  came into being on January 1, 1993
  • a country that in 1991  had a population of 10,302,215 and in 2011 a population of 10,436,560, which is not that impressive of a growth rate.
  • 30,450 sq mi in size and despite being the birthplace of Semtex plastic explosives it is a peaceful place that knows little of war and the most dramatic conflicts to have happened over the last 20 years involve two 50 year olds arguing about literature over beer in a bar at 11 pm.
  • The Czech capital city of Prague, incorrectly considered by many to be “Eastern Europe,” is far to the West of the German capital of Berlin.

Czechoslovakia was…

  • a state that came into existence 28 October 1918 and ceased existing the night of 31 Dec 1992.
  • located in the very heart of Europe.
  • made up largely of Czechs and Germans as well as Slovaks, Roma, Hungarians, Ruthenians, Jews, Poles, Vietnamese (a later addition to the mix), in addition to other ethnic minorities.
  • a country with a tradition of  notable Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and atheist/non-religious influence along with other religious groups.
  • after 1948, under monopoly political control of the Communist party, who essentially ran the country as a satellite of the Kremlin.
  • in Central Europe, with Prague as a capital city, which is several hours by car or train to the north and west of Vienna, Austria.
  • 13,607,385 strong in 1921 and in 1993, at the time of dissolution was estimated to be 15,600,000 strong (12 times the size of present-day Chechnya)
  • 54,227 sq mi in size in 1921 which was whittled away at over the years until in 1993 it was 49,382 sq mi (7 times the size of present-day Chechnya)

As a final note, I would like to reaffirm the important statement that there has been no such place as Czechoslovakia for over two decades. Maybe we need to better challenge a few trends in our society if we are calling authoritatively for the bombing of countries that don’t even exist.

Any thoughts? Please feel free to share this link with friends who might be interested in the topic, yet might be confused about the Czechoslovakia as opposed to Chechnya.

Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at He is from Chicago and spends most of his time travelling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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  • I hear cries of “stupid Americans!” It is more complex than that but generally I think that taking a lot of that money the US spends on its military (more than the next 5 countries combined if I remember correctly) and spending it on education (I guess you could provide free collee education for everyone for that money) would probably prevent a few wars down the way.

  • How ignorant! I am proud of my Eastern European heritage.

  • We have actually dangerously cut our military spending in this nation. Apparently, these perpetrators of violence who were born elsewhere milked our system and had scholarships paying for their education. I don’t even know if they were citizens. I don’t think Americans were the ones who confused this; I hope not!

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  • Phil Schmidt

    Apr 21st, 2013

    The longitudes of Prague and Berlin. are 14.4. and. 13.4
    degrees East,respectively, so Prague is. East. of. Berlin.

  • Phil,
    THANK YOU. Jeez, what an embarrassing over site on my part. I can’t believe I didn’t fact check that claim better. I essentially did the same thing I’m criticizing in the piece – I made a public claim of knowledge without fact checking better. Maybe I was feeling a little high and mighty because I knew the difference between Chechnya and Czechoslovakia. As soon as I get on my computer at home, I will strike that out. Much obliged, Sir.

  • Thank You ,
    Thank You and thank you again Mr. Allan for helping people get at least a piece of basic education as far as history and geography goes.Which obviously is in a dissaray in US and if there is at least 1% of money used for militarizing the globe,policying america and rest of the world and spying – that would be not necessary to teach adult people ,how ignorant and off the chart their empty heads are. Just staying in the line with a knowledge of 10 years old and just for starters , how Kansas can be eastern board USA??? Now, cannot obviously same way like Czech Republic ,because it is not on the east,but in the middle ,how difficult it is for healthy person to get that???
    Furthermore, not all countries starting with CH letters are the same countries,folks!!!!! Even if they are spelled differently than CHECK , for example. Thank You.
    Just to add couple info to your excellent info servis Mr. Allan , Chechnya has big reason to be a separatist country,because russian soldiers took about 2/3 of population of it after WW2 and removed it couple hundreds miles away to the desert,kinda like Mr. Jackson did with Cherokee indians and some other tribes:))))))),so therefore do not be folks surpriced ,that they do not love them that great of a deal:))))))
    On the other hand Czechs did fight for their cause as a nation a long time ago as a 15th century to be more specific and since that time were usually just beaten up and subjudigated by some other nations,be it germans or russians or another empires,so not really aggressive nation to say the least.As far as their religion , there is predominantly none,since most people do not believe anything imaginable,but only tangiable ,such as money,power or property,cause just in the turmoil of last 100 years was there about 5 different governments changed with all kinds of different views and goals,restrictions and specifics,over the centuries also being part and see all those inqusitions and repercussions and pogroms I guess kinda God need to look like heartless creature or not even real that much to them to say the least,so therefore there is thet situation now.
    Thank you one more time and thanks for bringing this up.
    And message for those offensive stupid folks ,who have no clue what is going on besides their front yard,—–get educated,do not embarass yourself,your family , me and other folks, also think and look around first before you say something or tweet or share on social media,.because you may hurt a lot of folks or make a mess by doing so , it is not necessary to do so much harm by being lazy and stupid ,you can change that folks for better and get it straight,at least you can be a model for your kids,too:))))
    Thanks a lot , cheers.

  • Ben D. Morris

    Apr 21st, 2013

    How about mthe knitwits who confuse Australia with Austria? It’s not just a line from a Jim Carrey movie. There are really such idiots out there … who probably breed and vote! 😉

  • I just need to react also on the message from twitter from whoever is Matt Frost, ……………………….I am sorry for those lost lives and injured ,too. It is bad enough,too. But,sorry I am not calling for invading whichever country I want,because in that case that would be permanent war at all times…………………………
    This gentleman is I thing already totally ruined by official propaganda by the way Mr. Bush style, ok, let’s invade Afganistan and Iraq and Somalia,Yemen,Pakistan and so on and so forth…….I mean ,really??????????? Is it just inflated EGO or simply ignorance,arogance and lust for power at stake or it just became habit and conceptual thinking as a regular ,normal reaction towards situations of life? It almost looks like obsession of giant proportions.

    In other words Mr. Matt Frost could be happy that another nations do not think same way ,because if they would ,he would be most likely dead already since US government started since WW2 about 50 military conflicts,including assasinations,torture,bribery ,rigged voting,coup d’etats and changed governments,so technically speaking it is good that other nations are already so developed and so mature,that they do not fight and kill back for every intervention , even on the national level. Thanks God most of the planet is already that far and full of high purpose, in that case it is a big challenge for USA ,especially for people like Mr. Matt Frost:)))))))))))))))))
    Otherwise people have not that much of a chance to survive any longer.
    I felt obliged to address this issue , plainly from my heart,thank you. Love your pages and info,very valuable.
    Also, great eye Mr. Phil……… I had overseen that one ,too:))) God Bless,s.

  • To Ben:

    A bit unrelated, but I just think it is funny how they solved the Jim Carrey line in Slovak dubbing. Austria (Rakúsko) and Australia (Austrália) wouldn’t work in Slovak so they used Austria (Rakúsko) and Russia (Rusko). And instead of “G’day mate!” he said “Zdravstvuy dyevochka!”

  • Well, I am not surprised that Americans confused Czechs with Chechyans. My recent experience with a few Czech nationals and emigrants that I have come to know, have not been positive. These people criticized my attempts to speak Czech, my appearance, my ideas; all-in-all, they just plain Criticized Me !!! And they fought to uphold their antagonistic point of view. So now I see them as American-hating foreigners. And I understand how other Americans could see Czechs this way.

  • Cynthia,
    Thank you for sharing this. There are jerks in every culture. Sounds like these people you met were among them. In all honesty they probably felt threatened by you in someway and were just giving you a hard time. Feeling threatened I’ve found can be a somewhat common response to an American who knows a lot about your culture. Interestingly, I’ve found that Czech men tend to display a “macho” lack of friendliness to a stranger more often than Slovak men. Slovaks tend to be very welcoming to strangers and appreciative of any knowledge of Slovak culture. This is especially true when in Slovakia. When someone is in the US that an be a little different though, in the US everyone wants to feel American even if they are just 10 minutes off the boat. In the US I’ve noticed you need to ease into the discussion a bit more or else you might scare the person off. I’m sorry about these jerks you met. As you and I both know, there are a lot of other people who aren’t like that and would for you to approach them. Thanks for sharing the story of the Czech jerks Cynthia.

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