Italian prosecutors launch probe into Russia collusion allegations

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By Cristina Abellan Matamoros
Italian prosecutors launch probe into Russia collusion allegations
Copyright  Reuters

Italian prosecutors have opened an investigation into allegations of collusion with Russia, following the leak of a transcript from a private meeting.

The transcript, published by BuzzFeed News, is said to be of a meeting between Russian officials and Gianluca Savoini, a close aide to Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini.

It is believed to have taken place at the Metropol hotel in Moscow on October 18, 2018, but Savoini said there was no such meeting.

In its report, BuzzFeed said Savoini and two other Italians discussed with three unidentified Russians how to funnel money from a deal into the League party's coffers.

However, the news site noted it was never made clear whether the deal went ahead or if the League received any funding.

Savoini told Euronews correspondent Giorgia Orlandi that "there was never such a meeting," adding that he went to the Metropol hotel to meet with local entrepreneurs.

He also said that he felt confident and calm and that he has never acted "illegally". He added his lawyers were ready to file a lawsuit against whoever is spreading such allegations.

Matteo Salvini has also denied the allegations that his League party had received any money from Russia.

This is not the first time there is talk about a secret meeting taking place between Russian investors and Salvini's close aides at the Metropol hotel. Italian news magazine L'Espresso made the allegations back in February but lacked any hard evidence to prove them.

The deal would entail a Russian company selling three million metric tonnes of fuel to Italian oil company Eni over a year and the League getting part of that sale.

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Additional sources • BuzzFeed