Did Lega receive campaign funding from Russia?
In the Italian Senate today, Wednesday, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is to make a statement about the investigations into Lega leader Matteo Salvini links to Russia. A close confidante of Salvini allegedly met with as yet unidentified Russians in Moscow to discuss a deal on illegal financing for Salvini's party to the tune of more than 60 million dollars.
As if nothing had happened
Italy now has its own version of the Austrian Ibizagate, the leftist daily Népszava comments:
“The Austrian and Italian cases are similar at first glance, but there is one major difference. In Austria the Ibiza video brought down the coalition government of the Austrian People's Party ÖVP and the Freedom Party FPÖ, and the FPÖ was sent to the naughty corner and probably won't return to the cabinet after the election at the end of September either. The opposition within the ÖVP to a new version of the coalition is huge. In Italy, however, life goes on as if nothing had happened. Matteo Salvini has launched a counter-attack, he's louder and more aggressive than ever and he has openly cast doubt on the current coalition with Cinque Stelle.”
Whose is the invisible hand?
Lucia Annunziata, editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Italia, has her suspicions about who leaked the story about Italy's contacts with Russia to the public:
“The invisible hand that has worked so effectively against the Italian sovereigntists could well be German. This could be a 'reactivation' of the German strategy of defending Europe against the resurgence of nationalism and Putin's Russia. It would be a break with the traditional pattern of Germany's 'reluctance' to take the lead in the post-war era. ... Is this the beginning of a new role for Germany in Europe, a leadership that clearly opposes the sovereigntists in Europe and that no longer hides behind the technical function of the guardian of Maastricht?”
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.”
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.”