The Vatican’s official website went offline days after Pope Francis fired his latest condemnation of the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
Several Vatican websites were down for several hours on Wednesday afternoon, including the official website vatican.va, Kyiv Post reported.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said technical investigations into the cyberattack were ongoing. “Technical investigations were underway (at the end of the day) due to abnormal attempts to access the website,” Bruni said.
Andrii Yurash, the Ukrainian ambassador to the Holy See, blamed Russia for the online attack. “Russian Terrorists Reach Sites of City State Vatican Today: Many Online Pages of Various Structures of the Roman Curia Have Been Inaccessible!” Yurash tweeted.
“Russian hackers are once again showing the real face of Russian politics.”
On Monday, the pope told America, the prominent US Jesuit publication, that soldiers from Russian ethnic groups, such as the Chechens and Buryats, were among the “brutalest” actors in the war in Ukraine.
“When I talk about Ukraine, I talk about the brutality because I have a lot of information about the brutality of the troops that come in,” the pope said, adding: “In general, the most brutal are perhaps those who are from Russia, but not of Russia.” the Russian tradition, like the Chechens, the Buryats, and so on.”
Chechens are an ethnic group from Chechnya in southern Russia, while Buryats are from Eastern Siberia.
Russians lashed out at Pope, calling his statement a racist remark, British news channel The Telegraph reported. Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry, said the pope’s comments were “absurd” and urged him to stop making comments based on racism and nationalism.
Alexander Avdeev, the Russian ambassador to the Vatican, expressed his outrage at the pope’s “strange remarks”.
An anti-war group in Buryatia was also saddened by the pope’s comments. Alexander Garmazhapova, the head of the Free Buryatia Foundation, told Russian radio that Pope Francis “turned out to be a racist” because he blamed a certain ethnicity for the war in Ukraine.
Garmazhapova urged the pope to “make a sincere effort” to rally the world around Ukraine.
The pope has spoken out against Russian aggression in Ukraine even before the war began in February. But this has led to tensions between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church led by Patriarch Kirill.
Earlier this year, the pope urged Kirill not to “become Putin’s altar boy,” CNN reported.
The two planned meetings between the two church leaders were also canceled because of the war.