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POLITICS

Anger over plans for Italy’s Salvini to speak at events in the UK

British anti-fascist groups have planned a "Sardines"-style protest in Liverpool after events were organised in the name of Italian far-right League leader Matteo Salvini.

Anger over plans for Italy's Salvini to speak at events in the UK
ItalianItalian League party leader Matteo Salvini. Photo: AFP

The protests have been organised amid concern that populist Salvini is planning to speak at venues in Liverpool and London this spring, the Liverpool Echo reported.

Tickets are on sale at £28 (€33) a head for what appears to be a dinner event being hosted by Lega nel Mondo, an international network established by Salvini in 2018.

Advertisements suggest Salvini will be speaking at as-yet undisclosed venues in the UK and Ireland in March and April.

A screenshot of one UK event being advertised online.

Leader of the right-wing League party and Italy’s former deputy prime minister, Salvini frequently grabs headlines in Italy and abroad with his anti-immigrant outbursts, controversial publicity stunts, and divisive “Italians first” rhetoric.

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The event website is very vague, and invites supporters of the Italian politician to email for further information.

Lega nel Mondo had not responded to requests for comment at the time of writing.

In Liverpool, anti-racism groups quickly responded by organising a peaceful protest which, the Echo reports, will take inspiration from the 'Sardine' movement that has recently sprung up in Italy to protest the politics of Salvini and other right-wing figures in the country.

READ ALSO: 'Enough hate': Who are the protesting 'Sardines' packing into Italian squares?

The protest movement began as a flash mob protest in Bologna in November, at which organisers said people would be “packed like sardines” into the city's main piazza.

A “sardines” protest against Matteo Salvini and the League party in the Italian city of Florence in December. Photo: AFP

The anti-Salvini protest in Liverpool is being organised by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and Stand Up to Racism and is being supported by Labour politicians and other groups.

A spokesperson for UAF stated: “No venue in Liverpool should host such a person as Salvini. Liverpool of course is a proudly, multicultural city with great anti fascist traditions.”

Salvini has been he subject of five criminal investigations within the past two years. He is currently the subject of one ongoing trial and numerous lawsuits.

It was confirmed on Wednesday that Salvini is now also to stand trial on charges of illegally detaining migrants at sea, after senators upheld a vote by the lower house to strip him of his parliamentary immunity. If found guilty in this case, Salvini could face prison.

READ ALSO: More than half of Italians think racist attacks 'can be justified', poll finds

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POLITICS

Italy’s government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

Italy's new government issued a decree on Thursday to continue sending weapons to Ukraine through 2023, continuing the previous administration's policy of support to Kyiv.

Italy's government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

The decree extends to December 31, 2023 an existing authorisation for “the transfer of military means, materials and equipment to the government authorities of Ukraine,” according to a government statement.

Since taking office in October, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has repeatedly voiced her support for Kyiv while underlying the importance of the Atlantic alliance.

In her first speech to parliament, the leader of the Brothers of Italy party pledged to “continue to be a reliable partner of NATO in supporting Ukraine.”

Her predecessor Mario Draghi was a staunch supporter of Kyiv, but the issue of sending arms to Ukraine split the biggest party in parliament during his coalition government, the Five Star Movement.

That friction led to the early elections that brought Meloni to power.

Parliament now has 60 days to vote the decree into law.

READ ALSO: Outcry in Italy after Berlusconi defends Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Despite Meloni’s efforts to reassure her Western allies of Italy’s support for the EU’s and NATO’s Ukraine strategy, including sanctions on Russia, the close ties to Russia of her two coalition partners have come under scrutiny.

Both Matteo Salvini of the League party and former premier Silvio Berlusconi, who leads Forza Italia, have long enjoyed warm relations with Russia.

In October, an audio tape of Berlusconi was leaked to the media in which the former premier described how he had received a birthday present of vodka from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the tape, he also expressed concerns about sending weapons and cash to Kyiv and appeared to blame the war on Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Berlusconi later issued a statement saying his personal position on Ukraine “does not deviate” from that of Italy and the EU.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Salvini, too, has come under fire for his relations with Moscow, including a report that he dined with Russia’s ambassador to Rome just days after that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Salvini, who has criticised EU sanctions as ineffective, has long admired Putin, even wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the Russian leader’s face.

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