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Pope Backpedals, Vatican Apologizes For Comments On Russian Minorities

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The spokesperson for Russian diplomacy, Maria Zakharova, said the Vatican had apologized for its comments on Russian minorities. The pope had notably accused the Chechens and the Buryats of being “the cruelest” in Ukraine.

After accusing Russian ethnic minorities on Nov. 28 of being “the cruelest” in Ukraine, Pope Francis apologized to Russia.

During a press briefing, the spokesperson for Russian diplomacy Maria Zakharova specified on December 15 that the Holy See had reconsidered its remarks. In addition, the director of the Vatican press service, Matteo Bruni, indicated: “At the moment, I can confirm that there have been diplomatic contacts in this direction.”

“It’s not even Russophobia anymore; it’s perversion”, reacted Zakharova.

Indeed, in an interview with the American Jesuit newspaper America, published on November 28, the pope spoke of the “cruelty” that Ukraine would face in the Russian offensive. “When I talk about Ukraine, I talk about cruelty because I have a lot of information about the cruelty of the troops” arriving on the front, said the sovereign pontiff, who spoke in Spanish. “Perhaps the cruelest are those who come from Russia but are not of Russian tradition, such as Chechens, Buryats, etc.,” he said.

Words that had provoked the ire of Moscow. “It’s not even Russophobia anymore, it’s a perversion,” Maria Zakharova had lambasted on Telegram the same day. A condemnation joined by the spiritual leader of the Buddhists of Buryatia. “Contrary to all expectations, the leader of Catholics in the world felt forced to have malicious words for our people”, thus regretted the lama Damba Aïoucheïev.

For his part, the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov called the Vatican’s allegations “propaganda”. “I could have reminded him of the Inquisition, the Crusades as an answer,” he said in a message published on November 30, also referring to “the recent executions of unarmed Russian soldiers” by Ukrainian forces.

Olawale Adeniyi Journalist | Content Writer | Proofreader and Editor.