Kremlin spy participated in secret meeting to fund Italian separatist party

Kremlin, Russia

AN ALLEGED EMPLOYEE OF Russian intelligence was present during a secret meeting in Moscow, in which politicians and investors discussed a plan to fund a northern Italian separatist political party. The party, Lega Nord (Northern League, or LN) was established in 1991 as an amalgamation of northern Italian separatist groups whose members seek greater autonomy and are opposed to Italy’s membership in the European Union. Under its current leader, Matteo Salvini, the LN has adopted an hard-line anti-immigration stance and has associated itself with United Russia, the political home of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In July of 2019, the investigative news website BuzzFeed released audio recordings of a secret meeting that allegedly took place in Moscow’s Hotel Metropol, between members of the LN and Russian emissaries of the Kremlin. The discussion reportedly concerned a plan to sell Russian oil to an Italian firm connected to the LN at a markedly discounted price, which would allow it to compete with Italy’s state-owned energy supplier and at the same time enrich the LN’s election campaign coffers by nearly $70 million.

According to an investigation by Italian authorities, participants at that meeting were Salvini’s former spokesperson, Gianluca Savoini, as well as two other Italians, who managed investment banks and were also supporters of the LN. There were also three Russian participants, including a Kremlin lawyer who works for the Russian Ministry of Energy, and a Russian former banker and tycoon with clsoe ties to President Putin. But the third Russian had not been identified. Until now.

The Italian newspaper L’Espresso, which has led the investigative reporting into the alleged scandal, reports that the Milan Prosecutor’s Office has identified the third Russian participant as Andrey Yuryevich Kharchenko, an alleged employee of Russian intelligence. The paper said that Kharchenko’s identity was supplied to the Italian government by “another Western state” that has been targeted by Russian intelligence in recent years. The investigation into the alleged scandal continues.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 29 June 2021 | Permalink

One Response to Kremlin spy participated in secret meeting to fund Italian separatist party

  1. Riccardo Allegri says:

    Dear Mr Fitsnakis,
    I believe you are reporting wrong informations about the identity of the third Russian at the meeting with Savoini in Moscow. According to Wire Italy (https://www.wired.it/attualita/politica/2019/09/03/russiagate-novita-chi-sono-russi-incontro-savoini/?refresh_ce=), Kharchenko was one of the two Russian nationals immediately identified by the authority. He was a proud member of the right wing party called International Eurasian Movement that was founded by the controversial philosopher Aleksandr Dugin. He was a longtime friend of Savoini and, according to Buzzfeed, they traveled together many times. In one occasion, Kharchenko boarded a plane using a governmental document and this could be a further confirmation of his link with the Kremlin. Unfortunately I can’t read L’Espresso, because I am not a subscriber, but I am quiet sure the name of the unknown Russian linked to the intelligence agencies wasn’t Kharchenko. In my opinion it is interesting that no other newspaper has reported the news. The second man identified by the Italian prosecutor is Ilya Yakunin.
    By the way, I found your work, and this blog, very interesting.
    Best regards from Italy,

    Riccardo Allegri

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