May 21, 2024

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Russia furious over Pope’s comments on ‘brutal’ Russian minority

Russia furious over Pope’s comments on ‘brutal’ Russian minority

Russia has expressed “outrage” over comments by Pope Francis about the role of ethnic Russian minorities in the conflict in Ukraine, Russian news agencies reported on Tuesday.

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In an interview published on Monday, Pope Francis said some of the “brutal” fighters in the Russian offensive in Ukraine were “not of Russian heritage” but from minorities such as “Chechens, Buryats”. These Russian regions.

The Russian reaction was not long in coming, with Moscow making an official complaint to the Vatican on Tuesday, public news agency RIA Novosti reported.

“After these intentions I expressed my anger and pointed out that nothing can shake the unity and solidarity of the Russian multinational people”, the Russian ambassador to the Holy See, Alexandre Avdev, announced with the agency.

Russia was accused in September of disproportionately recruiting ethnic minorities from Siberia and the Caucasus to support its offensive in Ukraine.

According to Kremlin critics, the minority is concentrated in poor and remote Russian regions, and more soldiers have been killed on the front lines in Ukraine than ethnic Russians.

AFP

But this minority has also been accused of taking part in atrocities attributed to Russian forces by Kiev, such as the Putza massacre.

A spokeswoman for Russian diplomacy, Maria Zakharova, slammed the pope’s comments in a telegram on Monday: “This is not even Russophobia anymore, it’s a perversion.”

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The Free Buryatia Foundation (“Free Buryatia”), a US-based NGO, has been providing legal aid to Russian soldiers who did not want to participate in the offensive in Ukraine.

“Ethical models are the same, no matter who reproduces them: activists, politicians or spiritual leaders. And the Pope’s comments about Buryats and Chechens are not only racist stereotypes, but lies,” the organization said in a statement posted on social media.