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Kadyrov: The Pope is a victim of propaganda

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According to him, Francis does not know how Muslims behave with their enemies

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said today that Pope Francis is a victim of propaganda. His statement comes after the head of the Roman Catholic Church described as “cruel” the soldiers fighting on the side of Russia in the war in Ukraine, even though they are not of Russian nationality, reported AFP.

“The most cruel are perhaps those coming from Russia, but not (belonging to) the Russian tradition like the Chechens, the Buryats,” the Pope said.

Chechnya is a predominantly Muslim republic in the Russian Caucasus, and Buryatia a Buddhist region in Siberia, located between Lake Baikal and Mongolia.

“The Pope presented the Chechens and Buryats as the most brutal (fighters) in the Russian army,” said Ramzan Kadyrov.

“How can it be understood – only by appearance – from which nationality a soldier in a given division is, when there are over 190 nationalities living in our country?” Kadyrov said in “Telegram”.

“The head of the Vatican naturally will not be able to answer this question. He has simply become a victim of the propaganda and fervor of the foreign media,” added the Chechen leader.

He reminded the Pope of brutal episodes in the history of the Catholic Church, mentioning the Inquisition and the Crusades.

“There are no alcoholics or drug addicts in the ranks of the Chechens, everyone is very religious,” Kadyrov said, adding that his troops regularly offer Ukrainian soldiers to surrender before engaging them.

“It is unfortunate that a world-renowned religious figure knows nothing about how Muslims behave with their enemies,” Kadyrov said.

Although Russia has invaded Ukraine, “in general, the most cruel are probably those who are from Russia, but are not from the Russian tradition – such as Chechens, Buryats and others,” Pope Francis said in an interview

Russia has lodged a formal protest with the Vatican over a speech by Pope Francis in which he condemned atrocities in the Ukraine war, blaming the atrocities mainly on Chechens and other minorities, apparently trying to avoid criticism of ethnic Russian soldiers, the Associated Press reported.

The Russian ambassador to the Holy See, Alexander Avdeev, told RIA Novosti that he met with a representative of the Vatican yesterday to express his indignation at the Pope’s statement to the Jesuit order’s magazine “America”.

In the interview, Francis defended his usual reluctance to name Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying Ukraine was clearly the “martyr victim” of the war. However, he noted that although Russia invaded Ukraine, “in general, the most cruel are probably those who are from Russia, but are not from the Russian tradition – such as Chechens, Buryats and others”.

The pope’s apparent distinction between the predominantly Muslim Chechens and the predominantly Buddhist Buryats on the one hand and ethnic Russian fighters on the other has irked Moscow, AP notes.

“I expressed indignation at such insinuations and noted that nothing can shake the cohesion and unity of the multinational Russian people,” Avdeev said.

Earlier, the head of the Russian republic of Buryatia, Alexei Tsydenov, described the pope’s comments as “strange, to say the least.”

It was not entirely clear what Francis meant by people who follow the “Russian tradition,” but he may have been referring to the predominantly Russian Orthodox Christian roots of nearly 68 percent of Russia’s population.

He was apparently trying to draw a distinction between those who follow the “Russian tradition” and the allegedly more brutal Chechens and Buryats, even though Russian soldiers are accused of war crimes regardless of their ethnicity, the AP said.

This comes at a time when the Holy See is trying to mediate between Russia and Ukraine to settle the conflict. Efforts are being made by the Roman Catholic Church to assist in peace negotiations, but so far without success.

Asked about another Vatican offer, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow appreciated the gesture, but noted that Kyiv refused to negotiate.

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