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Today in Italy: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

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Today in Italy: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
A sign outside Rome's city hall reads 'in memory of Alexei Navalny' ahead of a vigil on February 19th, 2024. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

Salvini under fire over Russia comments, politicians on trial over smog emergency, Milan fashion week opens, and more news from Italy on Wednesday.

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Italy's top story on Wednesday:

There were calls for Italy's deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, a long-time admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, to clarify his party's ties with Russia after he said it was "up to Russian doctors and judges" to determine the cause of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's death.

Putin's main political opponent died in a remote Arctic prison on Friday, according to Russia. Navalny's team says the 47-year-old was murdered, and western countries have blamed Russian authorities for the death.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said EU member states had adopted a joint declaration attributing responsibility for Navalny's death "to President Putin and the Russian authorities", AFP reported.

"The judgment of the magistrates in a dictatorship has no value," the head of Italy's centrist Azione party, Carlo Calenda, wrote on X/Twitter, pledging to file a no-confidence motion against Salvini

Italy summons Russian ambassador over Navalny death

Italy has summoned the Russian ambassador over the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a diplomatic source told AFP, without providing any other details.

Italy became the latest European country to summon a Russia diplomat over the death of Navalny on Friday, following Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, and the European Union.

Meanwhile, the G7 will discuss imposing new sanctions on Russia at a virtual meeting attended by Ukraine's president on Saturday, the two-year anniversary of Moscow's invasion, according to Italy, which holds the group's rotating presidency.

"The EU will launch a new sanctions package and the United States will also approve a hardening of their sanctions," said a statement from Rome.

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Ex-politicians face trial over smog emergency

The former governor of Italy's Piedmont region and two former mayors of its capital, Turin, will face trial over high levels of air pollution in the area, prosecutors announced on Tuesday.

The former officials were charged with failing to take steps to mitigate the smog emergencies, and could be held responsible for the northern city's poor air quality, reported Sky TG24.

The trial will be begin on June 18th at Turin's Palace of Justice.

A study published by the environmental watchdog Legambiente earlier this month showed that Turin exceeded daily fine particle (PM10) emission limits for 66 days out of the year in 2023, making it the second most polluted city in Italy after Frosinone.

Milan Fashion Week kicks off

Milan Fashion Week begins on Wednesday amid an uncertain outlook for the global luxury fashion market.

Following fashion weeks in New York and London, Milan was back in the limelight with 56 runway shows lined up through Sunday on its Fall/Winter 2024-2025 calendar.

Italy's northern fashion capital was set to host women's runway shows from Fendi, Prada, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana and many other designers.

But muted growth projections, inflation concerns, an economic slowdown in China and geopolitical risk loom large for the sector, meaning it is expected to expand globally by "just three to five percent" this year, according to McKinsey's State of Fashion.

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