RussiaJanuary 17 2024, 11:15 am

Kremlin’s Propaganda Campaign Stirs Tensions in Italy

On 11 Jan­u­ary 2024, the Cen­ter for Euro­pean Pol­i­cy Analy­sis (CEPA) report­ed that Rus­sia has been active­ly using its cul­tur­al influ­ence in Italy to pro­mote events that san­i­tize its war crimes and spread anti-Ukrain­ian sen­ti­ments. This cam­paign led to protests from the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, the Ukrain­ian com­mu­ni­ty in Italy, and some local politi­cians. The con­tro­ver­sy cen­tered around a con­fer­ence in Mod­e­na, sched­uled for Jan­u­ary 20 and titled “The Rebirth of Mar­i­upol,” orga­nized by the Emil­ia Romagna-Rus­sia Cul­tur­al Asso­ci­a­tion. It was set to fea­ture speak­ers like Russia’s con­sul-gen­er­al and pro-Russ­ian Ital­ian blog­gers. The event was described as a por­tray­al of Mar­i­upol as a sym­bol of rebel­lion against the Kyiv gov­ern­ment but faced back­lash for its pro-Russ­ian stance and mis­in­for­ma­tion. Mar­i­upol’s true sto­ry, as a city that suf­fered immense destruc­tion and loss of life dur­ing the Russ­ian siege, stark­ly con­trasts the nar­ra­tive pre­sent­ed by the con­fer­ence. Ukrain­ian Ambas­sador Yaroslav Mel­nyk’s open let­ter prompt­ed the may­or of Mod­e­na to can­cel the event, high­light­ing the ongo­ing strug­gle against Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns in Italy. This inci­dent in Mod­e­na is part of a larg­er series of pro-Russ­ian events planned across Italy, reveal­ing the deep-seat­ed chal­lenges in coun­ter­ing the Krem­lin’s influ­ence operations.


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