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UKRAINE

Italy offers one-year residence permit to Ukraine refugees

Italy has approved an emergency residence permit scheme and support payments for the tens of thousands of people arriving in Italy from Ukraine following Russia's invasion.

Italy offers one-year residence permit to Ukraine refugees
Ukrainian refugees wait to board a bus after crossing the Ukrainian border with Poland. Photo by Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP

Italy will offer Ukrainians a residence permit valid for 12 months under a decree signed by Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Tuesday.

The special permit, which is not dependent on a visa, will allow holders to work, access education and healthcare and claim social security benefits once they arrive in Italy, national broadcaster Rai reports.

Like other forms of residency permit, it must be applied for at the Questura (immigration office). 

The decree was signed following a decision at last week’s European Council summit to offer temporary protection to those fleeing Ukraine following Russia’s invasion of the country, which began on February 24th.

The head of Italy’s Department for Civil Protection, Fabrizio Curcio, also signed an ordinance on Tuesday providing for a monthly payment of €300 for Ukrainians arriving in the country.

READ ALSO: How can people in Italy offer Ukraine refugees a place to stay?

According to a press release, the ordinance allows Ukrainians who have applied for the temporary protection residence permit and who have found “independent accommodation” to claim “a one-off support payment equal to 300 euros per capita per month for a maximum duration of three months from the date of arrival in Italy”.

It also provides for an additional 150 euros for each dependent child under the age of 18.

The ordinance confirmed that Ukrainian refugees with the one-year residence permit would be able to access healthcare on the same terms as Italian citizens after being issued with a tax code (codice fiscale).

The payment was approved following requests by local authorities, Curcio told journalists at a press conference on Tuesday.

He said it “allows those who have found an accommodation solution to be supported,” adding that “the overwhelming majority of the 72,000 people welcomed so far are hosted by networks of friends and relatives”.

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ENERGY

Italian energy company to start paying for Russian gas in rubles

Italian energy company Eni confirmed it is opening accounts in rubles with Gazprombank to pay for gas supplies, complying with Moscow's demands.

Italian energy company to start paying for Russian gas in rubles

Eni said in a statement on Tuesday it was opening accounts in rubles and euros with Gazprom Bank “on a precautionary basis” as “deadlines for the payment of gas supplies are scheduled for the next few days”.

It was not immediately clear whether the move would fall foul of European Union sanctions, although Eni said it was “not incompatible”.

The company said its decision to open the accounts was “taken in compliance with the current international sanctions framework” and that Italian authorities had been informed.

READ ALSO: Italy will ‘soon’ stop buying gas from Russia, says minister

Vladimir Putin demanded at the end of March that payment be made in rubles or the gas supply to European countries would be cut off, as he hit back at sanctions placed on Russia by EU countries following its invasion of Ukraine.
 
Eni’s CEO Claudio Descalzi said at the time that his company would not comply with the demands, saying “Eni doesn’t have rubles” and “the contracts say fuel payments should be made in euros”.
 
But many European companies and their lawyers have since been looking at ways to meet the demand without breaching sanctions aimed at punishing Russia for the war in Ukraine, reports Bloomberg.
 
EU officials had said opening a ruble account would breach sanctions. But its latest guidelines, to be published this week, are expected to stop short of banning bank accounts in rubles and  therefore allow companies to keep buying Russian gas, Bloomberg reports.
 
 
Like other European countries, Italy says it is working to reduce its heavy reliance on Russian energy imports in the wake of the Ukraine war.
 

But the Italian government has so far resisted calls to boycott Russian oil and gas.

Italy is highly dependent on Russian gas, importing 95 percent of the gas it consumes, of which around 40 percent comes from Russia.

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