The “toughest” troops are generally Chechens and Buryats, Pope Francis told an American magazine.
THE Moscow criticized his comments Pope Francis that some minority groups of soldiers behaved worse than others to the invasion of Ukraine.
The “toughest” troops are generals Chechens and Buryats Pope Francis told an American magazine. He also characterized the Great Holodomor famine that the Kremlin inflicted on Ukraine in the 1930s as genocide.
The Kremlin characterized the statements “perversion” and said the national teams were “one family”.
In an interview with America, a Jesuit magazine, Pope Francis was asked about his apparent reluctance to directly condemn Russia for the war.
In reply he said he had received “plenty of information about the cruelty of the troops”.
“In general, the toughest are probably those who are from Russia, but are not of the Russian tradition, such as Chechens, Buryats and so on,” he said. The Pope added that “the invader is the Russian state”.
The Chechens, an ethnic group in southwestern Russia, are predominantly Muslim. The Buryats, a Mongolian ethnic group originating from Buryatia, in eastern Siberia, traditionally follow Buddhism and shamanism.
The Pope said he has spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by phone several times while he has contacted Russian President Vladimir Putin through the ambassador to the Holy See.
Also responding to accusations that he does not directly condemn President Putin, he said: “Sometimes I try not to be specific so as not to offend and rather I condemn in general, although it is known who I condemn. It is not necessary to put a first and last name.”
Later in the interview the Pope added: “Everyone knows my stance, with Putin or without Putin, without naming him.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned the comments, state news agency RT reported.
“This is no longer Russophobia, it’s perversion on a level I can’t even name,” Zakharova said.
“We are one family with Buryats, Chechens and other representatives of our multi-ethnic and ‘multi-confessional’ country,” Zakharova later wrote on Telegram.
Pope Francis also said he wants to mark the anniversary of the Holodomor, calling it genocide and “historical precedent” of the current conflict. Four million Ukrainians died in the 1932-33 famine, caused by the collectivization of farms under Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
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