Only a few weeks removed from a similar scandal involving Russian links to Austria’s Freedom Party, Italy’s League is now under intense scrutiny after a recording emerged seemingly linking the far-right party to illicit Russian funding.
The story was broken by Buzzfeed, which claims to have obtained a recording of a surreptitious meeting between Russian officials and one of Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini’s top advisors. The meeting is said to have taken place in Moscow last October. In it, the two sides can be heard discussing in painstaking technical detail various ways to funnel Russian money to the League ahead of this year’s European elections. Their plan was to use a Russian state-controlled company to sell oil to Italy at a steep discount, with the $65-million-dollar-difference being funneled to the League for its European parliament campaign.
Needless to say this is bad news for Salvini, whose League had been rising in the polls amidst rumors of a looming snap election. But much like the FPO in Austria, this is unlikely to amount to a mortal blow to the party’s electoral fortunes.