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Claims of Russia bankrolling Lega won't put Italian government at risk, assures PM

Giuseppe Conte added that he trusts Lega’s leader, Deputy Prime Minister of Italy and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini completely
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte EPA-EFE/MAURIZIO BRAMBATTI
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte
© EPA-EFE/MAURIZIO BRAMBATTI

TASS, July 15. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is confident that the Italian government is not at risk in relation to the reports of Russia’s alleged financing of the Lega party, he said on Sunday, the ANSA agency reports.

When asked whether he thinks that the Italian government may be facing a crisis, Conte said: "I’d say no, because [head of the Lombardy-Russia cultural association Gianluca] Savoini has never had a government position." Savoini is the lead suspect in the case of international corruption in relation to the alleged financing of the Lega party by Russia.

"It would seem to be a mistaken observation to me to say that it could put the government at risk," the Italian PM stressed, adding that he trusts Lega’s leader, Deputy Prime Minister of Italy and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini completely.

Both Salvini and Savoini have denied the allegations.

Milan’s prosecution launched a case based on the publications on the US BuzzFeed website and in the Italian L’Espresso weekly news magazine shedding light on the alleged financing Lega was receiving from Russia, qualifying the case as international corruption. The main suspect in the case is one of Salvini’s associates, head of the Lombardy-Russia Association Gianluca Savoini. According to the prosecution, his voice can be heard on the BuzzFeed published audio recording of the conversation with reportedly Russian businessmen who are close to the Kremlin, when a possible oil supply contract was discussed. The party could receive the deal dividends amounting to 65 million euros.

Savoini was present at the state dinner, organized by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on the occasion of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Rome. Conte said on Friday that he personally is not acquainted to Savoini and that he had invited all participants of the Russia-Italy Business Forum, which took place on the day of Putin’s visit.

The Kremlin did not see any proof of the allegations that the Italian party received any financing from Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.