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]
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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.