Sunday, 29 Jan 2023

Racist interview with Pope Francis causes fury in Russia

Racist interview with Pope Francis causes fury in Russia


Racist interview with Pope Francis causes fury in Russia

Pope Francis has sparked fury in Russia over an interview in which he suggested that Chechen and Buryat members of its armed forces showed more cruelty in Ukraine than ethnic Russian soldiers.

In an interview with the Catholic magazine America published Monday, the pope said that soldiers from Buryatia, where Buddhism is a major religion, and the Muslim-majority Chechnya republic, were "the cruellest" while fighting in Ukraine.

"Generally, the cruellest are perhaps those who are of Russia but are not of the Russian tradition, such as the Chechens, the Buryats and so on," he said.

Russia has disproportionately relied on ethnic minorities to provide its main fighting force in Ukraine.

Human rights groups and independent media organisations have documented overwhelming evidence of war crimes by Russian forces, but there has been no data to suggest that soldiers from national minorities fighting in Ukraine have behaved worse in Ukraine than ethnic Russian members.

The pope's comments were swiftly condemned by Russian officials on Monday evening.

"This is no longer Russophobia, it's a perversion on a level I can't even name," Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on her Telegram channel.

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