Almost 60 million Italians live on the Apennine Peninsula. The political views of citizens change periodically, and they are not afraid of disturbances in the political structure of the country. Currently, in the parliamentary elections, the nationalist-conservative party ‘Brothers of Italy’ led by Georgia Maloney, won first place, and the ‘Democratic Party,’ whose ideas are centre-left, also entered the government. However, populist right-wingers, such as Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi, also sat in the parliament. In particular, as the BBC writes, the latter boasted of his closeness to Vladimir Putin. Read more about how the Russian-Ukrainian war is covered in Italy and whether pro-Russian narratives are used.
‘I wouldn’t say that the changes in the relations between Italy and Ukraine will be radical. As a member of the European Union, as one of the pillars of the EU (and after the exit of Britain, someone has to be one of the main countries together with Germany and France), Italy should be ready. Because of this reputation, it cannot oppose Ukraine openly,’ Yevhen Myronenko, an expert from Central and Eastern Europe of the ADASTRA Analytical Center, explains.
He insists that since Italy is a powerful country, it must help and catch it. And it does this, in particular, by providing military equipment. Georgia Maloney said the war’s end is only a victory for Ukraine, so you should not wait for a deviation.
Italian politics is closely related to media resources. The ruling parties have their media, through which they spread their ideas.
‘The election results showed that society is polarised. Support for Ukraine can now be manipulated because it is an excellent tool. But it is being manipulated negatively. In a positive way, as it is used in Germany, Poland, the USA – there is no such thing here,’ the political expert adds.
Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Italian publications wrote unequivocally about the Russian aggression.
However, with time, Russian propaganda started anew in the Italian mass media.
‘The NATO-backed Kyiv regime passes draconian new acts that outlaw any position that does not coincide with the states. Any such opinion should be considered treasonous and outlawed, even subject to persecution and violent repression.’
Doesn’t it remind you of anything? It seems like the usual ‘real truth’ prescribed in the Kremlin’s manuals designed for a Russian audience. However, you can read this not on propagandistic Russian resources but in the Italian mass media! controinformazione.info is an exquisite example of a press that spreads pro-Russian ‘truth’ in Europe.
Among materials posted there, you can also find news about ‘the complete defeat of Ukrainian air defence and Russian dominance on the battlefield,’ as well as a pseudo-experts opinion about ‘the collapse of the Ukrainian counteroffensive.’ This publication can be called primitive propaganda, designed to support bloodthirsty fans of war.
‘In just six months, starting from February 24, 2022, more than one military event, which was spread by the Ukrainian mass media and even state bodies, such as the Ukrainian presidency, turned out not to be true. On the contrary, they have expertly constructed fakes.’
That’s how it’s written in Italian sovranità popolare. At first glance, the thesis is full of illogicality. However, no, sovranità popolare gives examples of Ukrainian disinformation. According to the authors, the propaganda of the ‘ghost of Kyiv’ and some ‘heroisation of the military’ from Snake Island should make the Italian reader doubt the veracity of Ukrainian news. Moreover, the Italian media refers to the American journalist Dan Cohen, who once worked for RUSSIA TODAY. According to his investigation, an extensive PR campaign was conducted in Ukraine, which was financed by the United States, the United Kingdom and the NATO bloc in general. The campaign aims to describe ‘the Ukrainian army as righteous, little heroes who stand up to the brutal Goliath that is the Russian army.’ In March, he was unexpectedly and pleasantly praised for his investigation by the spokeswoman of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova.
Referring to Russian propagandists and generally using Russian narratives, sovranità popolare decided to use the Russian methodology fully. In conclusion, the authors accuse Stepan Bandera of Nazi collaborationism and the murder of thousands of Jews and Poles during World War II.
However, even prominent, respected publications cannot boast of 100% protection against Russian intrusions and disinformation. Yes, a new battlefield for the Russian information forces, and at the same time – an exhibition centre for the achievements of the Russian Federation is Corriere della Sera.
‘Breaking the good news: Grain and other agricultural prices have finally fallen — and Russia’s agriculture sector is healthy and on track to record wheat exports this year.’ Here is the good news from the Italians for Russia: no sanctions, no isolation, and no economic collapse. The main achievements are up ahead! In the material, they can shower Putin with flattery, passing it off as professional journalism: ‘Agriculture is Putin’s ‘secret triumph’.’
‘Periodically, Russian narratives appear in the mass media which can be explained by banal inattention, because I am not aware of any pro-Russian forces massively owning Italian media,’ political expert Evgeny Myronenko sums up. ‘Of course, Berlusconi has a certain part, but I would not say he is an openly pro-Russian politician. Or the fact that he at least tries to mask it because the largest party supports the politician in the European Parliament, so he cannot afford it.’
Having studied the Italian media space, we can say that there is no significant political force in the country that would openly advocate establishing relations with Russia. However, this does not mean Italy is entirely free from pro-Russian narratives. You can encounter them both among small resources with a narrow audience and on the pages of publications that are known and respected in Italy and throughout the world.