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Pro-Russian Hackers Claim Attack on Merkel's Website

Hackers blocked the website of German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday in an online attack claimed by a pro-Russian group opposed to the Ukrainian government.

Merkel's official website and those of the government and the Bundestag lower house of parliament were temporarily inaccessible after what spokesman Steffen Seibert called a "serious attack".

He said the attacks began around 0900 GMT, when the overloaded sites crashed.

"The data centre of our service provider is under serious attack, apparently caused by diverse external systems," Seibert said, adding he had no further details.

The German foreign ministry website was also temporarily hit, a spokesman confirmed.

Hackers calling themselves "CyberBerkut" said in a statement they were behind the blocking of the chancellor's and Bundestag websites.

The move came as Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was visiting Berlin, where he was due to meet German President Joachim Gauck later Wednesday and Merkel on Thursday.

The hackers said they appealed to Germany "to stop financial and political support of (the) criminal regime in Kiev, which unleashed a bloody civil war".

The group said Yatsenyuk hoped to gain financial help from the EU and IMF "to extend the war and not to restore (the) collapsed infrastructure of our country".

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