A secret recording released yesterday showed how a close aide to Italy’s deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini held secret talks to pump Russian oil money to his Northern League party in 2018. Gianluca Savoini also mentioned that there was a forming European pro-Russia coalition preparing to win the 2019 EP elections and the Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán is one of its members.
According to the BuzzFeed, the website that published the audio recording and its transcript, six men sat down for a business meeting on the morning of October 18 last year in Moscow’s iconic Metropol Hotel. Three of them were Russians while the other three were Italians with Gianluca Savoini, a close aide and former spokesman of Italian deputy PM Matteo Salvini described in the Italian media as his Russian sherpa, among them. Buzzfeed says that the six men’s purpose was an oil deal, but their real goal was to undermine liberal democracies and
shape a new, nationalist Europe aligned with Moscow.
They were talking about a covert business deal during which Lukoil or Rosneft would sell oil to Italian ENI with the help of two intermediaries and with a significant discount. Salvini’s party, the Northern League, could spend the amount of the discount approx. Sixty-five million dollars) on winning the 2019 EP elections.
This is, of course, a breach of the Italian electoral law, which bans political parties from accepting large above 100 thousand EUR) foreign donations. Nevertheless, Savoini emphasised that the deal had to be executed as soon as possible since the EP elections approached quickly, so they needed the money.
Savoini stressed during the meeting that
they would like to change Europe
and create a new one that “has to be close to Russia as before because we want to have our sovereignty.” Savoini has listed European allies, as well, in the project. He said in faltering English that “Salvini is the first man that wants to change all Europe. Together with our allies and colleagues and other parties in Europe. Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs in Austria, German Alternative für Deutschland, France Madame Le Pen, and other countries the same, Hungaria with Orban, in Sweden Sverigedemokraterna. We have our allies. We really want
to begin to have a great alliance with these parties that are pro-Russia.”
He added that they “have a lot of enemies. We are in a dangerous situation because our government is attacked from Brussels, from the globalist men — not Trump but the establishment of Obama is very, very strong and inside in Italy too.”
According to Buzzfeed, Salvini — described enthusiastically by the Russians on the tape as the “European Trump” — did not attend the meeting himself, but he was in Moscow at the time. The news outlet was not able to identify the Russian negotiators, but they said twice that they would have to feed details back to the “deputy prime minister,” and explaining they were hoping to get the “green light” from “Mr Pligin” the following week.
The Nothern League leader has vehemently denied ever receiving any foreign money to fund his party, and it is still
unclear whether the deal mentioned above was ever executed.
An Eni spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in an email: “Eni strongly reiterates that [it] in no way took part [in] transactions aimed at financing political parties. Moreover, the described supply operation never took place.”
Nevertheless, the Northern League received 34.5 pc in May’s EU parliamentary elections to become the most popular party in the world’s eighth-largest economy.
As we reported before, the Austrian vice-chancellor, Heinz-Christian Strache had to resign his post because of a secretly made video footage on which he talked about how an allegedly Russian businesswoman could buy one of the biggest Austrian magazine for him with which he could win the upcoming parliamentary elections of 2017. During the conversation, he mentions that he would
“build a media environment similar to that of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán”
and mentions Austrian businessman Heinrich Pecina as an “investor who bought and prepared every Hungarian paper for Orbán in the past 15 years”.