Italy launches investigation into Russian disinformation claims

The Local Italy
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Italy launches investigation into Russian disinformation claims
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was interviewed on an Italian talk show. Photo by Maxim SHIPENKOV / POOL / AFP.

An official investigation has begun amid widespread concern about Kremlin-linked Russian commentators appearing on Italian news channels.


Italy's parliamentary committee for security, Copasir, opened the probe this week in response to widespread concerns that Italian news outlets are being used to spread Russian propaganda, according to media reports.

The inquiry comes after Italian news channels repeatedly invited Russian journalists and pro-Kremlin Italian commentators to speak on their programmes in recent months.

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The recent appearance of Russia's foreign minister Sergej Lavrov on the political talk show Zona Bianca sparked a particular outcry in Italy, reports newspaper Corriere della Sera.


Lavrov used the platform to repeat claims that Ukraine's President Zelensky was a Nazi, despite his being Jewish - also falsely claiming that even Hitler was part Jewish.

He also denied that Russian forces were behind the atrocities committed against Ukrainian civilians in Bucha, despite clear evidence to the contrary.

Italy's president Mario Draghi called the comments "bizarre and obscene", reported Corriere della Sera.

Part of the committee's mission is to determine whether it is legitimate to invite organs of the Russian state to appear on Italian current affairs shows.

The repeat appearance on Italian talk shows of Nadana Fridrikhson, a journalist from the Russian state-owned TV network Zvezda which is run by Russia's Ministry of Defence, has also caused consternation among audiences in Italy.

"Russian disinformation works through espionage, hiring by Russian companies, campaigns and fake news," Copasir's president Adolfo Urso reportedly said as he announced the investigation.

"We must therefore ensure that the information is free from this systematic work of foreign interference."

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Urso pointed to a report by a European task force which had identified more than 13,000 instances of Russian disinformation in the EU since 2014 as evidence of the scale of the problem.

The committee has called on the president of the media watchdog Agcom, the director of Italy's security agency Aisi, and the CEO of the national broadcaster Rai to provide evidence in a series of hearings.

Following testimony delivered by Rai CEO Carlo Fuortes on Thursday, Urso said that the session "proved fruitful, providing useful insights in order to protect freedom, editorial and informational autonomy and pluralism against any form of conditioning and to increase the resilience of the entire country-wide system," according to news agency Ansa.


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