August 11, 2008 / 3:48 PM / in 10 years

Georgia says Russian hackers block govt websites

PARIS (Reuters) - Georgia accused Russia on Monday of using computer hackers to wage “cyber warfare” on Georgian government websites at the same time as it carried out a military offensive.

“A cyber warfare campaign by Russia is seriously disrupting many Georgian websites, including that of the Foreign Affairs Ministry,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

As of 1330 GMT, attempts to access the ministry website resulted in an error message, but ministry statements were available on a Web log: (georgiamfa.blogspot.com).

Ministry spokeswoman Nato Chikovani told Reuters by telephone: “Several government websites have gone down since the hacker attacks began on Friday.”

In Moscow, a Kremlin spokesman denied the accusation and said Russian websites had suffered similar attacks.

“On the contrary, a number of internet sites belonging to the Russian media and official organizations have fallen victim to concerted hacker attacks,” he said.

Russian troops pushed Georgian forces out of part of the breakaway South Ossetia region on Sunday, days after Tbilisi launched an assault to quell separatists there.

An information war has raged since the fighting started, with accusations flying and rival claims made and denied about civilian casualties in the Georgian operation in South Ossetia.

Russia poured troops and armored vehicles into the restive region after accusing Georgia of killing thousands of civilians among a population where most people hold Russian passports.

Georgia says it took precautions to avoid civilian deaths in its initial assault on South Ossetia. On Sunday it said 130 Georgian civilians and military personnel had been killed so far, many by Russian bombing.

Both sides accuse each other of ethnic cleansing.

Reporting by Brian Rohan, editing by Tim Pearce

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