The shadowy group of Russian hackers indicted by the U.S. special prosecutor last month have also spent years trying to steal the private correspondence of some of the world’s most senior Christian Orthodox church figures, the Associated Press reports. The targets included aides to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, often described as the first among equals of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christian leaders, who is currently deciding whether to accept a Ukrainian bid to tear the country’s church away from its association with Russia. Such a move would severely damage the power of the Moscow Patriarchate, and the Kremlin is scrambling to help Moscow’s Patriarch Kirill retain his traditional role as the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Russian officials denied the Kremlin has anything to do with the group known as Fancy Bear, who carried out the attempted hacks, despite evidence to the contrary.
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