28 June 202116:06

Anti-Russia publication in Italian La Repubblica Open letter by Russian Ambassador to Italy Sergey Razov to Editor-in-Chief of La Repubblica

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Esteemed Mr Editor-in-Chief,

We noted a lengthy article entitled “Bergamo: virus, spie e vaccini” that was published in your newspaper on June 20. In this article, your newspaper again recalls the events of March-April 2020, when a group of Russian virologists and disinfection specialists worked in northern Italy.

Three and a half lines of this article admit that “the Russian soldiers in Bergamo provided practical assistance by curing dozens of patients during the gloomiest hours in modern history, and by disinfecting dozens of care homes for the elderly.” The remaining almost 500 lines are a compilation of fabrications about the ostensibly real nature of an alleged Russian military spying mission in the spirit of “hybrid wars,” and “disinformation and propaganda campaigns,” including even “elements of competition aimed at reshaping the geopolitical map of the world.” Trying to analyse this entire package of allegations is a waste of time. Let’s just mention a few facts.

I remember well how a year ago, this newspaper and a number of other Italian media outlets tried to accuse our mission of spying. They alleged that the mission was trying to gather information about the military facilities of Italy and NATO in Bergamo and Brescia, where our specialists were working. Our explanations that the Italian authorities had chosen these areas themselves were simply ignored. It took more than a year for the authors of La Repubblica to finally admit the obvious – it transpired that, after all, our humanitarian mission was not seeking information about the Italian and NATO military facilities (apparently, there is no tradition to apologise for the overt disinformation that was actively spread in the spring of 2020).

However, as they say: “That which is crooked cannot be made straight” (Ecclesiastes 1:15). Now the authors of Repubblica are accusing us of sending our best virologists and epidemiologists, with extensive experience to Italy (yes, we took pride in saying this from the very start). They write that our experts had a modern mobile laboratory that analysed “the genetic structure of the virus and sent encrypted information to Moscow.” Indeed, at that time we also mentioned this mobile laboratory that was exclusively monitoring the population’s health, specifying the methods and doses of immune protection, analysing PCR and dealing with gene type assignment. (Incidentally, there were indeed coronavirus cases among our military who worked in the most dangerous sites in Italy). How can the authors of this article talk about secret tasks and capabilities of this laboratory if they themselves admit that no outsiders had access to it?

Furthermore, they make what is probably the most absurd and sacrilegious statement: “the Sputnik V vaccine was born of the Italian virus.” (Have the Russians stolen the Italian COVID?!) The authors are trying to track a direct cause-and-effect and time link between the work of our mission and the invention of the Russian vaccine. The message is that the clinical data obtained in Italy by “spying” allowed our specialists to make the vaccine very quickly. However, this is contrary to the facts. The newspaper admits that sanitary and military sources in Italy confirm, “the Russians were not allowed to take any samples from the hospitals where they were treating patients.” Moreover, in June, Russia started testing the Sputnik V vaccine on volunteers and in August it was the first to be certified in the world. Even a nonprofessional understands that the development of this vaccine could only have been produced through study of other viral diseases over many years.

It is perfectly obvious that the heroic work of our military in Italy, over 46 days, gave them some experience in understanding the dangers of this disease and the speed and characteristics of its spread. The infection came to Russia three to four weeks later than it did to Italy. And this experience was duly used while developing our own methods of fighting the pandemic. But why is this a crime?! This is an absolutely natural and universally accepted course of cooperation that continues up to this day. Incidentally, at present the Rome-based Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases is conducting important clinical tests of the Sputnik V vaccine with the participation of Russian specialists. Other studies are planned under the relevant memorandum on cooperation signed last April. We believe that if Repubblica had devoted one hundredth part of its extensive article to this cooperation in countering the epidemic, it would have been more useful and informative for the readers of the prestigious newspaper. 

Finally, the last point. The authors call Bergamo “a venue for testing new hybrid conflicts.” We think of it as a place where the Russian leaders and the Russian people selflessly helped Italian people who were in trouble. This is our main point of divergence with the editors of the newspaper, the policy of which compels us to respond to such articles.

Ambassador of Russia to Italy

21.06.2021

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