UNDISCLOSED LOCATION IN NORTH CAUCASUS, Russia - The parents of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects have retreated to a village in southern Russia to shelter from the spotlight and abandoned plans for now to travel to the United States, the father of the suspects told Reuters on Sunday.
Anzor Tsarnaev said he believed he would not be allowed to see his surviving son Dzhokar, who was captured and has been charged in connection with the April 15 bomb blasts that killed three people and wounded 264.
"Unfortunately I can't help my child in any way. I am in touch with Dzhokhar's and my own lawyers. They told me they would let me know (what to do)," Tsarnaev said in an interview in the village where he relocated with the suspects' mother.
He agreed to the face-to-face interview on condition that the village's location in the North Caucasus, a string of mainly Muslim provinces in southern Russia, not be disclosed.
"I am not going back to the United States. For now I am here. I am ill," said Tsarnaev. His face gaunt and tired, he added he suffered from high blood pressure and a heart condition.
Tsarnaev had said in the North Caucasus province of Dagestan on Thursday that he planned to travel to the United States to see Dzhokhar and bury his elder son, Tamerlan, who was shot dead by police in a firefight four days after the bombings.
In Sunday's interview he said he had decided to move away from the family home in Dagestan to the new location because he wanted to keep a low profile.
Dressed in a black shirt and black trousers, he passionately defended his sons' innocence, saying they had nothing to do with Islamist extremists.
"I feel hopeless. We are simple people. We are trying to understand. We are attacked from all sides," he said.
"I don't know whether I should talk or stay silent. I don't want to harm my child. ... We are used to all sorts of things here but we didn't expect this from the United States."
The suspects' mother, Zubeidat, was also with him in the location but did not wish to speak. The couple are divorced.
The Tsarnaevs are ethnic Chechens who lived in the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan and in Dagestan before emigrating to the United States with their children.
The parents returned to Dagestan two years ago, and Tamerlan spent the first half of 2012 there.
Pacing nervously in the garden of a large house where he was staying, the father said he had no hope that Tamerlan's body would be released by the U.S. authorities to be buried in his homeland.
"They won't give us his body," he said, his voice breaking with emotion. "We wont be able to bury him in our land."
The North Caucasus has seen numerous conflicts since the fall of the Soviet Union, including two major Russian wars against separatists in Chechnya and an Islamist insurgency over the past decade that is increasingly focused on Dagestan.