Pro-Russian hackers take down German government websites

A pro-Russian hacker group from Ukraine on Wednesday claimed responsibility for attacks that brought down the websites of the German government and parliament.

The websites of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s and the Bundestag went down at 10 am (0900 GMT), according to Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert.

While bundestag.de went online again during the afternoon, Merkel’s site, bundeskanzlerin.de, remained offline Wednesday evening.

“There is a heavy attack on our provider’s servers,” Seibert said in Berlin, adding that he could not give details about those responsible.

In so-called distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, hackers bombard websites with requests causing them to slow down or crash.

The Cyberberkut hacker group said on its website that the attack was timed to coincide with the Berlin visit of Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, whom it blames for the war in eastern Ukraine.

“We appeal to the German people and government to stop the financial and political support for the criminal Kiev regime,” the statement, published in Russian, said.

The pro-Western Ukrainian premier on Wednesday oversaw the signing of a 590-million-dollar loan from the German government and held talks with Germany’s President Joachim Gauck in Berlin. He will hold talks with Merkel on Thursday.

Cyberberkut is named after Ukraine’s Berkut riot police, which was dissolved after last year’s ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych. The group claimed in March that it brought down the website of NATO and in November said that it had documents proving illegal cash transfers from the United States to the Ukrainian military.

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Pro-Russian hackers take down German government websites