“A single ruble or a liter of vodka”: in Italy, the ongoing debate about the Salvini ties with the Kremlin

In Italy there is debate about possible financing by Russia of the party “Northern League” Matteo Salvini. The Prosecutor’s office of Milan is investigating possible corruption scheme secret transfer of $ 65 million under the oil transaction. Sam Salvini 16 Jul promised to answer parliamentary questions on his links with the Kremlin.

“I never took any Russian ruble, nor the Euro, nor dollar, a liter of vodka” as the interior Minister of Italy Matteo Salvini commented on the publication of the American website Buzzfeed, published July 10, an audio recording of a meeting between three Italians and three Russians in the Moscow hotel “Metropol” in October 2018. During the meeting, six men discussed “the terms of the deal for the secret transfer of tens of millions of dollars from Russian oil party “League””.

Under this deal, the Russian oil company, presumably Rosneft and LUKOIL, had in the course of the year to sell Italian oil company, Eni, presumably, the fuel in the amount of approximately $ 1.5 billion.

The Italian side had to buy fuel with a four percent discount. These 4% had to go on the funding campaign of the “League” in the upcoming elections to the European Parliament. According to estimates BuzzFeed, the transaction amounted to 65 million dollars.

In a conversation published, the parties insist on the need to mediate the transaction would become a well-known company. It is referred to the company Trafigura, which in recent years has become one of the largest traders of Russian oil, and last mentioned in several scandals, particularly in Brazil, côte d’ivoire and Norway.

It is not known whether in the end concluded the transaction, however, the publication BuzzFeed has formed the basis for the initiation of the investigation by the Prosecutor’s office of Milan on the links of the “Northern League” with Russia.

Company “Rosneft” called the publication “a lie aimed at damaging the business reputation”, the Italian company Eni also denied participation in the negotiations.

“The world lost in global delirium”

One of the participants in the negotiations with the Italian side was assistant Salvini Gianluca Savoini (Gianluca Savoini). The Italian press calls him the chief liaison between the “Northern League” and the Kremlin. A former journalist, Savoini married to a Russian woman and directs the Association “Lombardy-Russia”. In the Russian version of organization’s website shows that the idea of the Association “fully consistent with the worldview of the President of the Russian Federation”.

“The real world, lost in delirium the global, is the negation of the traditional world, as we know. Russia today seems to be the only Bastion and the only lighthouse that you can watch with hope”, — stated in the description of the Association (the spelling and punctuation more. — RFI).

Savoini was questioned by investigators from the Milan Prosecutor’s office on Monday, July 15. He used the right not to answer questions. According to sources the Italian media, the Milan Prosecutor’s office launched an investigation against Savoini back in February, when the Italian edition of L’espresso for the first time told about the meeting in the Metropole.

The authors of the investigation in L’espresso Titian Giovanni and Stefano Vergine published in February, a book called “the Black book of the League”, which describes in detail about the meeting. As journalists wrote, Gianluca Savoini closely associated with the philosopher and ideologist of neweurasia Alexander Dugin, close to the European far-right circles. With Dugin Savoini agreed to organize the visit of Matteo Salvini in Moscow, which took place on the same days that the meeting at the Metropole.

On the audio Buzzfeed Gianluca Savoini says: “the European elections will be held next may. We want change in Europe. The new Europe must become closer to Russia, as before, because we have to have its sovereignty”.

As previously reported by the BBC Russian service with reference to the Italian press, Thursday, July 11, Savoini confirmed a meeting with the Russian businessmen. However, according to him, he did nothing illegal, and the “Northern League” has not received funding from Russia.

“Salvini is warm to our country”

The interior Minister of Italy and leader of the far-right “Northern League” Matteo Salvini is known for his Pro-Russian views. In 2016, he visited the Crimea, and called the annexation of the Peninsula “legitimate”. In addition, he performs regularly for the lifting of sanctions against Moscow, as well as making statements in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Salvini believes Putin “one of the best statesmen” and wears a t-shirt with his portrait. In the office Salvini at the party’s headquarters in Milan hang two photos of the Russian President.

Vladimir Putin personally met with Matteo Salvini in October 2014, long before he became one of the leading Italian politicians.

During his visit to Rome in early July, in an interview with Corriere della Sera, Vladimir Putin told about the permanent contacts with the “Northern League” and recalled existing between “League” and the “United Russia” the cooperation agreement. “Salvini is warm to our country,” — said the Russian leader.

Matteo Salvini and Gianluca Savoini was also present at the dinner in honor of Putin’s visit to Rome. As reported by Reuters with reference to the office of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, it is Salvini asked to make Savoini on the guest list. Salvini, however, denies this information. “Let me seriously engage my work. Look for a RUB, good luck to you and I work. I believe that this investigation is ridiculous,” said Salvini reporters on Friday, July 12. According to him, such attacks of the press on him the reason the Newspapers in Italy “are sold less and less.”

The Italian law prohibits foreign funding of political parties.
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