4 March 201911:53

Italian media reports on Russian funding in Italian domestic politics

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On February 24, Italian L'Espresso magazine ran an article entitled “Three Millions for Salvini,” which suggested that the conservative League party led by Matteo Salvini (topping the opinion polls in the Apennines with a 34 per cent support rating before the European Parliament elections) could have received about 3 million euros from Russia’s Rosneft – the sum matching the Russian oil giant’s profit from selling diesel fuel to the Italian state energy company Eni. L’Espresso journalists alleged the money was being injected into the party to promote its victory in the election to the European Parliament.
These ideas were actually expressed in the subjunctive mood, suggesting the writers did not have any reliable data on such a deal. Yet, L’Espresso came to the unequivocal conclusion that since the League’s emissaries often visited Moscow and met with high-ranking representatives of the Russian authorities and the business community, their misuse of Russian financial support must be an obvious fact that did not require any proof.
There is another interesting aspect. Despite the obvious absurdity of the accusations against Russia, the authors of the article are clearly going to put on a multi-act media show. It was announced that The Black Book of the League, disclosing the alleged Russian connections and other crimes by party members, was being prepared for publication in Italy. The publicity announcing the forthcoming book reads: “They support Putin’s course, propagandise the ideas of his philosopher [Alexander] Dugin, call for the lifting of the sanctions imposed against Moscow and, in cooperation with Russian partners, seek to move production to Eurasia.”
The date for setting off this information bomb was certainly not chosen at random. It was right before the regional elections in Sardinia, with the obvious aim of playing the Russian card. The politically-motivated publication in L’Espresso is just an attempt by the Italian press to follow the same track as the American and British media. The idea is not new, and neither is the scenario – it can be safely labelled: “Designed in Washington, assembled in Rome.” What we are now witnessing in the Italian media is the well-tested US scenario of using the mythical threat of Russian interference in internal political affairs. Russia has repeatedly pointed out that there are no facts proving Russia's interference in any foreign presidential elections. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov underscored this in his speech at the Munich Security Conference: “One can publish just about anything. We can see growing numbers of accusations, allegations and statements… until we have the facts, everything else is bunk, pardon my not too diplomatic turn of phrase.”

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