How close are Salvini's ties to Moscow?

A close associate of Italy's deputy prime minister and Lega leader Matteo Salvini is said to have met with as yet unidentified Russians in Moscow in order to negotiate a deal for illegal funding for the party. This was revealed by audio recordings passed on to website Buzzfeed News. Apparently the sum under discussion amounted to more than 60 million dollars. Italy's media appear unsurprised by the whole affair.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

No reason to doubt a man of honour

La Repubblica doesn't buy Salvini's protestations of innocence and makes fun of him:

“Matteo Salvini swears he has never accepted 'a single rouble, euro, dollar or litre of vodka from Russia'. And Salvini is a man of honour. So we have no reason to doubt his word. ... The Americans must have got things wrong. The tapes must have been mixed up. Or perhaps one day it will emerge that the whole thing was a plot organised by Soros, Captain Carola and [satirist] Maurizio Crozza, a story they made up about the Italian party selling itself to the Tsar of the new Russia in order to destroy the EU and make Moscow the political centre of the Continent.”

Huffington Post Italia (IT) /

The leader of the Lega may be open to blackmail

Huffington Post Italia points to similarities with the Austrian Ibiza scandal:

“Two stories with a common denominator, namely dirty dealings between sovereigntist parties and big Mother Russia. And they both have the same ending: the publication of audio and video material that was secretly recorded - how or by whom we don't know. ... Could it be that Salvini has decided to continue governing with Cinque Stelle rather than breaking with it and demanding new elections because he is being blackmailed? ... While the search for a definitive answer continues we must content ourselves with one aspect: after the publication of this story Salvini will undoubtedly be kept in check politically.”