Italian Deputy PM Matteo Salvini has denied receiving funding of any sort from Russia after BuzzFeed published a report alleging a shady deal between Italians and Russians to fund his party with Moscow’s “oil money.”
“I’ve said this before, but I’ll it repeat it today, tomorrow and the day after – I’ve never received any funding from Russia, not a single ruble, dollar, euro – or even a liter of vodka,” Salvini stated.
The report, published on Wednesday, is based on a lengthy text, said to be a transcript of an audio allegedly recorded on October 18 last year in the lobby of Moscow’s Metropol Hotel. Three Italians and three Russians, were discussing a rather shady fuel deal, designed to sustain a “political campaign.”
BuzzFeed alleges that the campaign in question was the European elections, held this May. Still, it is not very clear what “political campaign” exactly the participants of the supposed meeting were discussing from the transcript itself.
One of the negotiators is identified in the report as Gianluca Savoini – a senior aide to Salvini, yet all the other men are not named. Savoini himself has dismissed the report as well.
“It’s yet another political attack that is absolutely baseless. We’ve never received a single ruble from anyone. That’s why it’s just empty talk,” Savoini stated.
The story of the alleged clandestine Metropol talks to fund Salvini’s party with shady Russian money was first reported this February in L’Espresso magazine. It claimed that the Italian Deputy PM had met his Russian counterpart Dmitry Kozak in person, as well as reported involvement of Savoini into the supposed deal. No definitive evidence for the claims was provided, apart from Savoini pictured in Moscow – where he indeed attended a conference back then.
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