German government sites downed by pro-Russian hackers

Pro-Russian hackers have taken credit for a cyberattack that shut down at least two German government websites, demanding Berlin sever ties with the Ukrainian government.

“We appeal all people and government of Germany to stop financial and political support of criminal regime in Kiev, which unleashed a bloody civil war,” the group, CyberBerkut, wrote on its website.

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Former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, a Russian ally, was pushed out last February during violent protests. His replacement, Petro Poroshenko, has maintained a contentious relationship with Moscow, often over the presence of Russian troops in Ukrainian territory.

CyberBerkut has dramatically increased its activities since the transition of power.

On Wednesday, the group used a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) — which overwhelms websites with traffic and takes them offline — to take down German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s site as well as that of the country’s lower house of Parliament.

“We are CyberBerkut! We will not forget! We will not forgive!” proclaimed the group’s site.

Both sites were back up as of Wednesday afternoon.

The German government has so far declined to attribute the attacks to anyone.

Russian hackers are widely recognized as some of the most sophisticated in the world, and have been widely suspected in hacks of various U.S. federal agencies.