Chechens, Buryats and others who are “of Russia but are not of the Russian tradition” are acting with “cruelty” in Ukraine, the head of the Roman Catholic Church told the Jesuit magazine America in an interview published on Monday. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said such words go beyond mere Russophobia.
Ukraine’s people are being “martyred,” Pope Francis said in the interview, conducted last week at the Vatican. “Generally, the cruelest are perhaps those who are of Russia but are not of the Russian tradition, such as the Chechens, the Buryati [sic] and so on. Certainly, the one who invades is the Russian state. This is very clear.”
Speaking at a roundtable in the Russian Senate on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the comments made by Pope Francis beyond the pale.
“This is no longer Russophobia, it’s a perversion on a level I can’t even name,” she said.
Later, on Telegram, Zakharova pointed out that until recently the Western media claimed that Slavs were “tormenting the people of the Caucasus,” referring to the conflict between Russia and the Chechen separatists, and now they say it’s the other way around.