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Italian Media Uncovers Country’s Pro-Russia Network

June 15th, 2022 14:49

Ital­ian media is report­ing that a com­plex pro-Russ­ian net­work is try­ing to influ­ence pub­lic opin­ion in Italy, attack pro-Ukrain­ian politi­cians and sup­port those who advance pro-Russ­ian views. Accord­ing to a report by Corriere:

June 5, 2022 The net­work is com­plex and var­ied. It involves social net­works, TV, and news­pa­pers and has as its main goal the con­di­tion­ing of pub­lic opin­ion. It is active at key moments in the con­flict, attack­ing politi­cians aligned with Kiev and sup­port­ing those who advance pro-Russ­ian views. The pro-Putin net­work is now a well-estab­lished real­i­ty in Italy, alarm­ing the secu­ri­ty appa­ra­tus as it attempts to steer, or worse boy­cott, gov­ern­ment choic­es. And it does so by being able to count on par­lia­men­tar­i­ans and man­agers, lob­by­ists and jour­nal­ists. The inves­ti­ga­tion launched by Copasir has entered the cru­cial stage. The mate­r­i­al col­lect­ed by the intel­li­gence iden­ti­fies the chan­nels used for pro­pa­gan­da, recon­structs the con­tacts between groups and indi­vid­ual fig­ures, and, above all, the choice of the moments when the net­work, using sev­er­al social plat­forms togeth­er — from the best-known ones such as Telegram, Twit­ter, Face­book, Tik Tok, Vk, Insta­gram, to niche ones such as Gab, Par­ler, Bitchute, Exit­News — gets the counter-infor­ma­tion going. [Trans­lat­ed with DeepL]

Read the rest here.

The report iden­ti­fies the fol­low­ing indi­vid­u­als, cam­paigns, and social media accounts as part of Italy’s pro-Rus­sia network:

  • Maria Duboviko­va, a Russ­ian jour­nal­ist who lives in Moscow and has over 40 thou­sand fol­low­ers on Twitter
  • “Not in my name”, a cam­paign launched by dozens of far-right pro-Russ­ian pro­files which often inter­sect with Covid deniers
  • Gior­gio Bianchi a well-known Ital­ian free­lancer cur­rent­ly in Ukraine who push­es pro-Russ­ian polit­i­cal pro­pa­gan­da. Bianchi runs the Giubbe Rosse Telegram chan­nel with more than 60,000 members.
  • Alber­to Fazo­lo, an econ­o­mist and pub­li­cist who has spread dis­in­for­ma­tion on Ukraine
  • Man­lio Din­uc­ci, 84 years-old geo­g­ra­ph­er and writer who pro­motes the “No War No NATO” committee
  • Alessan­dro Orsi­ni, a lec­tur­er at Luiss University
  • Mau­r­izio Vez­zosi, a free­lance reporter cov­er­ing the con­flict from Ukraine
  • Pro-Russ­ian Telegram chan­nels such as rober­tonuz­zo­canale, G4m3OV3R and lan­tidiplo­mati­co
  • Lau­ra Rug­geri, a writer for the Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion out­let Strate­gic Cul­ture Foundation
  • Cesare Sac­chet­ti, a “well-known jour­nal­ist and dis­sem­i­na­tor of disinformation”
  • Clau­dio Gior­da­nen­go, a politi­cian who in 2019 ran for the far-right League for the munic­i­pal­i­ty of Saluzzo
  • Patri­ot Net­work, a group on the Russ­ian social media web­site VKontakte

In May, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report report­ed that pro-Russ­ian media cov­er­age in Italy had trig­gered the launch of a par­lia­men­tary inquiry to inves­ti­gate whether some Russ­ian com­men­ta­tors appear­ing on Ital­ian TV net­works could be on Putin’s pay­roll. Oth­er recent Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report cov­er­age of Rus­si­a’s influ­ence oper­a­tions in Italy has included:

  • In March, we report­ed on leaked emails and doc­u­ments show­ing how Russ­ian influ­ence group Tsar­grad is coop­er­at­ing with a host of far-right politi­cians and activists in Europe. These include Mat­teo Salvi­ni, the for­mer Ital­ian deputy prime min­is­ter, inte­ri­or min­is­ter, and cur­rent leader of the far-right Lega party.
  • In Feb­ru­ary, we report­ed that Mat­teo Ren­zi, for­mer prime min­is­ter of Italy,  resigned from the board of Delimo­bil, Rus­si­a’s largest car-shar­ing ser­vice, fol­low­ing Rus­si­a’s inva­sion of Ukraine.
  • In Feb­ru­ary, we report­ed that Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin held a video meet­ing with senior Ital­ian busi­ness lead­ers to expand ties between Italy and Russia.