Italian parliamentarians caught participating in secret chat group on Donbass
After conducting its own investigation, an Italian newspaper revealed that a secret chat group was created on the WhatsApp messenger service, which included 40 Italian parliamentarians. This chat group discussed the events in the Donbass, the military operation in Ukraine and Ukrainian Nazism.
Published: April 3, 2022, 2:11 pm
The most discussed star of the chat was Vittorio Nicolas Rangeloni, an employee of the Ministry of Information of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and a citizen of both Italy and the DPR. His reports from the Donbass had won the praise of the Italian deputies.
Some four dozen Italian parliamentarians who are not supporters of Russophobia, participated in the group on the messenger service, and the politicians published links to Russian-language media, while condemning Nazism in Ukraine.
They discussed the reports from Rangeloni in Donbass on the group. It is interesting that none of them had ever voiced their position in the public space. The bulk of the chat participants are members of the Italian League party. On the WhatsApp group, methods to circumvent the ban on the Sputnik site were communicated, as well as hot news from the conflict in Ukraine. “But with Firefox it [Sputnik] opens!”
From the WhatsApp trenches the League’s deputies and senators shared what they described as “counter-information with respect to the Russophobe mainstream”. In all, around forty members of the League expressed a critical stance towards Kiev , NATO and the sanctions imposed on Moscow.
Various media outlets have reported that anti-Russian sanctions would have a negative impact on the energy sector throughout Europe. This opinion was shared by the head of the Italian Foreign Ministry Luigi Di Maio. He noted that the country should pay attention to cooperation with its reliable partners.
But the secret chats of pro-Russian League supporters have nevertheless riled mainstream Italian politicians.
Some messages included criticism of League leader Matteo Salvini. “Salvini? He is a renegade! From Putin’s shirt in the Red Square to Atlanticism.” At stake here is also the re-nomination of Salvini – he will be forced not to discount this grouping in his party to remain in power.
“Are we pro Putin? It was another context. Now everything has changed,” one League member noted. In Verona, other members of the party agreed.
The members of these chats are the same ones who had opposed the health dictatorship during the pandemic. Members of the Italy-Russia-Belarus interparliamentary group (chaired by the FdI group leader, Francesco Lollobrigida) also took part. This may become a headache for Giorgia Meloni, leader of Brothers of Italy (FdI).
Meloni had been gaining popularity before her sudden change of course. Indeed, she had been poised to become the standard-bearer of the Italian right, after she had refused to join the broad government coalition led by Mario Draghi.
After having repeatedly shown sympathy towards Putin, the party has now taken a position against the Russian president after the operation in Ukraine was launched. The Ukrainian conflict was condemned by Meloni, who warned that disciplinary steps would be taken against those who sided with the “tsar”.
It is a real about-face of the FDI leader, who in 2015 strongly supported President Putin. In 2018 she sent Putin her “compliments” for his re-election. The Russian attack, on the other hand, was immediately condemned by Meloni, who declared that it was an “unacceptable large-scale war attack by Putin’s Russia against Ukraine”.
The leader was also clear: No opponents of the FdI’s party line on the crisis in Ukraine would be tolerated. Meloni met with Ukrainian ambassador Melnyk in Italy. After this meeting, the party declared: “It is essential that Italy continues to operate in full coordination with its allies, in the context of NATO and the Western bloc.”
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