Russia rejects accusations of interference in Italian elections

Anti-immigrant politician Matteo Salvini ditched PM Draghi after talks with Russian embassy, prompting collapse of government; Moscow calls claims it intervened ‘bizarre’

Italian senator and League party leader Matteo Salvini at the Senate in Rome on July 20, 2022. (Andreas Solaro/AFP)
Italian senator and League party leader Matteo Salvini at the Senate in Rome on July 20, 2022. (Andreas Solaro/AFP)

Russia on Friday rejected “bizarre” accusations of election interference in Italy’s election campaign, after anti-immigrant leader Matteo Salvini’s ties with Moscow came under scrutiny.

“It is bizarre to see the Italian political class and media” resorting to the “trite myth about Moscow’s interference in electoral processes,” said Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova.

On Thursday, Italy’s La Stampa newspaper reported that a diplomat at the Russian embassy met one of Salvini’s aides in late May in Rome to discuss the political landscape.

The meeting took place at a time when Salvini was accused of conducting parallel diplomacy with the Russian embassy, officially to work on a peace plan between Moscow and Kyiv, without the knowledge of the Italian government.

The League, Salvini’s party, pulled out of the government this month, alongside Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the populist Five Star Movement, causing Mario Draghi to resign as prime minister and triggering September elections.

Zakharova stressed, on the Telegram messaging app, that Russia considers Italy to be “a sovereign country that pursues an independent internal and external policy.”

For this reason, “relations between Russia and Italy have always been characterized by pragmatism, mutual understanding and respect,” the spokeswoman added.

Many politicians demanded an explanation from Salvini after the revelations in La Stampa.

Salvini has long admired Russian President Vladimir Putin, even wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the Russian leader’s face, a stance that has become politically difficult since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

His links with Moscow have been a regular source of controversy, particularly since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, and could hamper the anti-migrant League and its right-wing allies Forza Italia and Fratelli d’Italia in the campaign leading up to the September 25 legislative elections.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure:
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.