As the manhunt continued Friday for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, so did the posts to a VKontakte social network page and retweets from the Twitter account believed to belong to him.
VKontakte, a social media service similar to Facebook, is available in several languages. It is particularly popular among Russian-speaking users around the world. As of December 2012, VK reported that it had at least 195 million accounts.
As of Friday afternoon more than 8,000 bombing-related posts were made to Tsarnaev's VKontakte page, on which his first name is spelled Djohar.
People were also reacting to a Twitter account alleged to be that of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. By Friday afternoon, the handle had been mentioned more than 15,000 times on Twitter, and the followers had grown from a few hundred to more than 45,000.
Numerous users urged Tsarnaev to turn himself in.
A selection of posts on the VKontakte site, some of which have been translated from Russian, included these:
• A user who posted with the name "Ed Smith" wrote:
"Djohar - you have put your entire family in jeopardy of being killed, the only thing you can do to help them is give yourself up, if you die we will have no one to punish and as Americans we need payback for the innocents you killed, give yourself up ...it's time to man-up and give yourself up before its too late."
• A user who posted as "Janene Ahmed" wrote:
"I would like to know, how a man of your age and education, Djohar, can do such a thing. Killing innocent people, women and children which is forbidden in Islam. May ALLAH, unite all Muslims in prayer. I pray that you let the true meaning of Islam into your heart. Please do what your uncle asked of you and turn yourself in."
• A user who posted by with the name "Elita Aidamirova" wrote:
"Islam is a pure religion, in fact the Bible and the Koran have a lot of teachings in common. The Koran does not teach that people should make war, kill or put others down. ... A Higher Being said that He created everything on Earth, and only He has the power over people's lives and souls. These individuals who committed this terrorist act, are not people but monsters. They are not real Muslims, and don't mistake them to be real Muslims. Because of their actions, we suffer."
• A user by the name of "Stanislav Snegiryov" wrote:
"All of the immigrants out of the former USSR, in the West, are considered Russian, even if they may be ethnically another nationality. Like these two sick individuals, who are Chechen not Russian. And because of this, not only do innocent Russians suffer, but Russia's reputation as well."
The last tweet written on the Twitter account was sent at 1:43 a.m. Wednesday and read, "I'm a stress free kind of guy." By 4 p.m. Friday, that had been retweeted more than 3,200 times and Twitter users were reacting to the statement.
User @chrisbrenner tweeted: "Please turn yourself in before more innocent people are harmed. Why are u on this rampage? Tell the world your story, turn urself in."
User @AJIsTheReal tweeted: "PLEASE be captured alive. ... Don't die before you're punished."
The Twitter account was confirmed to be Tsarnaev's by a classmate to BuzzFeed, and a CNN reporter said two sources who are Tsarnaev's friends also confirmed the handle. The Washington Post and ABC News also were posting that the account belonged to Tsarnaev. The Associated Press, as well as multiple other media outlets were reporting about the Vkontake site. USA TODAY was working to independently verify the information.
While @J_Tsar's activity is largely banal, including song lyrics and cat photos, there are signs of more. The account follows several Muslim-themed Twitter accounts, and several tweets about Islam are also posted on @J_Tsar's profile including this: "Brothers at the mosque either think I'm a convert or that I'm from Algeria or Syria, just the other day a guy asked me how I came to Islam." Another tweet said in part, "My religion is the truth."
Additionally, there are a handful of tweets posted in Russian and this: "#in3rdgrade I didn't speak a word of english."
A tweet about Sept. 11 was posted on Sept. 1 last year: "Idk why it's hard for many of you to accept that 9/11 was an inside job."
Konstantin Vengerowsky and Mary Nahorniak, USA TODAY