April 23. 2024. 7:45

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Salvini under pressure to show cancelled deal with Putin’s party after Navalny remarks


Liberal Action party (Renew Europe) leader Carlo Calenda slammed far-right Lega party leader Matteo Salvini on social media on Tuesday, demanding an account of the 2017 agreement with Putin’s United Russia party and evidence that the deal between both parties has been cancelled.

The atmosphere of unity between the political parties that took part in the candlelight procession in memory of Alexei Navalny in Rome on Monday night was short-lived.

Read more: Italian politics mourns Navalny after Salvini’s Lega first refused to point fingers

The criticism began when Lega announced its participation in the event, as Salvini previously made a controversial statement on Navalny’s death:

“I can hardly know what happens in Italy, how can I judge what happened on the other side of the world? I understand the position of Navalny’s wife, clarity is needed. But the doctors, the judges do it, we don’t do it”, Salvini said about the death of the Russian activist and lawyer.

Salvini’s Lega party is part of the coalition government together with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy (ECR) and centre-right Forza Italia (EPP).

Calenda reacted to Salvini’s statement, saying the judgement of magistrates of a dictatorship “counts for nothing”.

“Yesterday you [Salvini] sent your people to a demonstration against the assassination of Navalny, give us evidence that the agreement with United Russia has been cancelled”, Calenda wrote on X.

In March 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia ruling party signed a cooperation agreement with Lega to enhance their ties.

Calenda said he would ask his office to check the entrepreneurs who have financed Lega “one by one” to understand what links they have with Russia, finishing off his tweet with “sue me”.

Calenda explained that Salvini’s presence in the government poses a “serious problem of national security and access to sensitive information” ahead of the EU elections.

“A minister of the Republic cannot be a political partner of a murderous and imperialist dictator who wants to break up the European Union (…) Lega must provide the letter in which it cancelled the agreement with United Russia”, Calenda concluded, adding otherwise his party will present a motion of no-confidence against Salvini.

For his part, Salvini described the attacks on his party’s links with Russia as “nonsense” and recalled that Italian judges had recently decided that the case did not exist due to the lack of “concrete elements”.

Salvini’s words on Navalny come after those of his deputy secretary, MP Andrea Crippa, who hesitated to identify Putin as the instigator of the Russian dissident’s death.

“We express our condolences, but we are waiting for light to be shed. We do not point to those responsible until there is objective evidence. Pointing to culprits seems to me premature and inappropriate”, Crippa said.

“If he was fine two days ago, it means that the conditions of imprisonment made him fine (…) If the conditions of imprisonment in Russia were bad, he shouldn’t have been fine two days ago, unless the conditions changed in these two days. I don’t know”, Crippa added.

Lega is part of far right ID group in the EU Parliament and its electoral performance ahead of the EU elections has been in decline for months.

Salvini’s comments add to Meloni’s headaches as since she took over Italy’s power, she has kept her distance from Russia strengthening ties with the US administration.

Meanwjile, Italy on Tuesday summoned the Russian ambassador over the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a diplomatic source told AFP, without providing any other details.

(Federica Pascale | Euractiv.it)

Read more with Euractiv

Vučić reiterates refusal to sanction Russia: ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed’

Vučić reiterates refusal to sanction Russia: ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed’

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić will continue to refrain from imposing sanctions on Russia despite pressure from the West, he told the TASS agency, adding that when it comes to relations between Serbian and Russian citizens, a friend in need is a friend indeed.