MOSCOW, April 2. /TASS/. Claims being made by the Italian newspaper La Stampa about the mission of the Russian military in Italy who help fight against coronavirus infection are based on old-time anti-Soviet propaganda manuals, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Igor Konashenkov said on Facebook.
The Russian Defense Ministry has noted La Stampa’s attempts at discrediting Russia’s mission. Konashenkov points out that the newspaper uses speculations about the ideals of freedom of speech and pluralism to juggle with the cheapest Russophobic fakes of the Cold War era, mentioning as its sources some "opinions" voiced by anonymous "high-ranking officials."
"La Stampa does not hesitate to use everything that its authors manage to think up on the basis of recommendations of old-time anti-Soviet propaganda manuals," Konashenkov said.
He dismissed as far-fetched falsehoods La Stampa’s allegations Russian virologists were biological warfare specialists and the equipment delivered to Italy was useless.
Konashenkov explained that Russian epidemiologists and their Italian counterparts were pushing ahead with the anti-coronavirus treatment of 65 homes for the aged in Bergamo, while Russian military medics and the Italian military personnel were deploying intensive care wards at a field camp near Bergamo to help treat the Italians infected with the virus.
"All this is being done with the use of Russian equipment, which the newspaper describes as allegedly useless," Konashenkov said. He stressed that the Russian military’s chief mission was "free assistance to the Italian people."
Konashenkov said the Russian Defense Ministry was well aware of the masterminds of the publication. "A bad penny always comes back," he quoted a British proverb.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that a company registered in Britain was behind La Stampa’s charges.
Russia’s assistance to Italy
On March 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte held a telephone conversation to agree that Moscow would provide the necessary assistance to Rome in the fight against the coronavirus. From the evening of March 22 to the morning of March 25, 15 planes arrived in Italy to deliver a hundred Russian military virologists and Defense Ministry epidemiologists, eight teams of doctors and nurses and disinfection equipment and vehicles. The Russian military currently work in Bergamo, Lombardy, one of the areas that have been the hardest-hit by the pandemic.
Currently Russian doctors and nurses and their Italian counterparts are creating intensive care facilities at a hospital in Bergamo for the treatment of coronavirus patients. It is to open within days. More than 200 Italian and Russian specialists will be employed there, the Russian Defense Ministry said.