Commuting To Moscow: Lega Nord’s Pilgrimage To Russia
- Previous reporting by news outlets L’Espresso and Buzzfeed News has revealed that Gianluca Savoini, a close aide to Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, took part in negotiations for clandestine funneling of Russian funding to Italy’s Lega Nord party.
- The negotiations — the contents of which came to light thanks to an audio recording obtained by Buzzfeed News — focused on ways to set up a series of sham oil export transactions that would allocate a “cut” of profits in the tens of millions of euros for the European Parliament elections campaign of Lega Nord, which is a pro-Moscow, far-right Italian party.
- The meeting took place on October 18, 2018 at the Metropol hotel in Moscow and involved five other men — two Italians and three Russians. BuzzFeed News has previously released the entire transcript of the recording.
- In the wake of these disclosures, Italian prosecutors have announced that they had been investigating the proposed oil deal since February 2019. According to reports in Italian media, Savoini, who is Salvini’s former spokesperson, is under investigation for international corruption along with two other Italian men — an international lawyer called Gianluca Meranda and Francesco Vannucci, a consultant and banking expert — who made a public statement acknowledging that they indeed attended the meeting at the Metropol Hotel with Savoini, but that a deal was never completed.
A new joint investigation by Bellingcat and BuzzFeed News together with our Russian investigative partner, The Insider, has established that Savoini made an extraordinary number of trips to Moscow in the last five years, often flying in on one day and out the following day. He made at least 14 visits in 2018 alone, and a further three in the first three months of this year. On some of the trips, Savoini was accompanied …read more