October 7, 2014 / 6:44 PM / in 3 years

Russian hacking attack takes aim at leadership in Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A hacker targeted a Russian regional parliament’s website on Tuesday with a statement berating authorities in Moscow and declaring the southern Volga region’s Astrakhan province was leaving the Russian Federation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a meeting with his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev in the city of Atyrau, September 30, 2014. REUTERS/Aleksey Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

Russians largely support President Vladimir Putin’s policies and his popularity received a boost after his annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea territory and for his stance toward eastern Ukraine. However, critics say Putin has clamped down on dissent in recent years which is now mostly expressed online.

Mimicking language used by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, the announcement on the regional parliamentary website said local authorities had created a “Lower Volga People’s Republic”.

“The short-sighted and criminal policies of the federal authorities have put the country on the brink of catastrophe. The authorities have fully discredited themselves, having lost the huge amount of trust given to them,” the announcement read.

Hours later the announcement had been taken down. The Astrakhan parliament press service issued a statement saying the site had been hacked and the incident was being investigated.

Reporting by Thomas Grove; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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