ROME, January 18. /TASS/. Italy’s Lega party (formerly known as Lega Nord or the Northern League) believes that the European Parliament’s debate on Russia’s alleged propaganda in the EU media to be absurd, party member Mario Borghezio, who is also a member of the European Parliament, told TASS on Thursday.
"It is absurd to discuss this issue when there is no evidence [of Russia’s attempts to influence the domestic policies of EU members]," he said. "Italian secret services have rejected allegations concerning such attempts. These very debates prove that the European leaders have long stopped to listen to their people and do not trust the people’s vote. If they believe that the people are so easy influenced then they should recognize their own defeat," the MP said.
purpose. According to Borghezio, the debate was fruitless, while a very small number of parliament members attended. The Italian MP clarified Lega’s position while addressing the debate’s participants.
The United States has been accusing Moscow of seeking to influence the outcome of the Italian parliamentary election scheduled to be held on March 4. According to the US, Moscow has been supporting populists, eurosceptics and anti-system parties in order to destabilize the situation in the European Union. US Ambassador to Italy Lewis Eisenberg presented a relevant report to the Congress. Besides, former US Vice President Joe Biden published an article accusing Russia of trying to influence the domestic situation in the country.
The Italian authorities, in turn, said that they were keeping an eye on such signals, but the country’s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said later in an interview with the Financial Times that he did not consider it necessary to stir up this issue. According to him, Italy is a free country and voters are free to make their own decisions.
The Italian opposition parties Lega and the Five Star Movement have also rejected allegations about Russia’s support for them, including financial assistance. Lega has a cooperation agreement with the United Russia party, as well as with other European political parties.
It is not the first time that the European Parliament brings about allegations concerning the so-called Russian propaganda. In November 2016, the European Parliament adopted a resolution dubbed "EU strategic communication to counteract anti-EU propaganda by third parties," which had been drawn up by a Polish member of the European Parliament, Poland’s former Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga. According to the document, "the Russian Government is employing a wide range of tools and instruments, such as think tanks and special foundations (e.g. Russkiy Mir), special authorities (Rossotrudnichestvo), multilingual TV stations (e.g. RT), pseudo news agencies and multimedia services (e.g. Sputnik)… social media and internet trolls to challenge democratic values, divide Europe, gather domestic support and create the perception of failed states in the EU’s eastern neighborhood."
The resolution also alleged that "Russia invests relevant financial resources in its disinformation and propaganda instruments engaged either directly by the state or through Kremlin-controlled companies and organizations… the Kremlin is funding political parties and other organizations within the EU with the intent of undermining political cohesion, and that, on the other hand, Kremlin propaganda directly targets specific journalists, politicians and individuals in the EU."
Russia’s Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov criticized these allegations saying that the EU’s executive institutions "have been seeking to create some kind of an ideological special force to fight against the windmills of the ‘Russian propaganda’."