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The Russian Embassy in Italy © wikimedia.org/Dmitry Shuleiko/CC BY-SA 3.0

Italy: Russian mission outraged by daily’s mistake in Lega funding case

The Russian Embassy in Italy is not satisfied with the statement published by an Italian newspaper in response to the false claims it published alleging that a Russian diplomat is involved in the financing of Italy’s Lega party.

Published: September 14, 2019, 6:04 am

    Rome

    The leftwing daily Corriere della Sera named the first secretary of the Russian embassy in Italy as a person involved in the high-profile case of Russia’s alleged financing of the Lega party.

    The claim was met with outrage in the Russian diplomatic mission, which demanded an official retraction from the editors.

    On September 6, an employee of the Russian Embassy in Italy Andrei Kharchenko was wrongly named by the daily as a person involved in the high-profile case of Russia’s alleged financing of the Lega party. The employee in question has a different patronymic name and is younger than the alleged suspect.

    “We have noted that a part of the embassy’s letter published on September 13, which demands that the editorial office publish a rebuttal of information of a libelous nature contained in the September 6 article and apologize to our diplomat, has been omitted,” the Russian mission underscored.

    The Embassy of the Russian Federation added that articles of this kind require in-depth clarification.

    On Friday, Corriere della Sera acknowledged its mistake regarding the misidentification of a Russian diplomat. But according to the newspaper their mistake was the result of the Russian embassy’s failure to confirm the facts prior to the publication.

    In a briefing on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated the facts surrounding the case: “The Russian embassy in Rome sent a rebuttal to the newspaper but it still has not been published. We are expecting the newspaper to publish the retraction based on the materials that the Russian embassy provided for the Italian newspaper and to apologize to the Russian diplomat.”

    In July, US portal BuzzFeed published a conversation between the head of the Lombardy-Russia Association and a senior member of the Lega party, Gianluca Savoini, and purported Russian businessmen, Andrei Kharchenko and Ilya Yakunin.

    Based on the BuzzFeed article, Milan’s prosecutor opened a case against Savoini on international corruption charges. Other suspects in the case are lawyer Gianluca Meranda and financial consultant Francesco Vannucci. They have denied any wrongdoing.

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