Kiril Lakota is often identified as a Russian, when in fact he is an Ukrainian, a different ethnic group. Ukraine was then part of the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, Westerners - especially Americans - typically referred to the Soviet Union as "Russia" and did not distinguish between various nationalities within the Soviet Union, referring to all of them as "Russians."
TV reporter George Faber (David Janssen) reacts with surprise when Lakota appears on the balcony after his election and declares, "It's Lakota. They've elected a Russian pope." But the identity of a new pope is always announced from the balcony before his first appearance as pontiff.