It looks like the efforts to bolster the creaky European consensus for continuing to provide unquestioning military and economic support for Ukraine is starting to backfire. Even though the Orban government in Hungary has been a lightening rod of criticism for its refusal to back an EU oil embargo (it finally won a carveout of pipeline oil, the type it uses), weakening support in Italy is likely of much greater concern to Eurocrats. And it looks like an gambit to discredit some of the high profile Ukraine skeptics has backfired.
As we’ll discuss in detail, the leading newspaper, Corriere della Sera, published a list of a dozen “filoputiniani” or “Putin lovers,” on Sunday. An editorial in Il Foglio lists some of its members. Per a machine translation:
Among the profiles published by the via Solferino newspaper is Vito Petrocelli, a senator expelled from the M5s [Five Star] and dismissed from the role of the president of the Senate Foreign Affairs Commission. Laura Ruggeri, freelance journalist, who writes articles in the pro-Putin Strategic Culture Foundation magazine. Then there are Alessandro Orsini, Professor of Sociology of Terrorism, often a guest on television broadcasts and political debates, Maurizio Vezzosi, freelance analyst and reporter, Giorgio Bianchi, photojournalist who manages an account with over 100,000 subscribers. And again: Claudio Giordanengo, dentist in 2019 candidate with the League [Lega Nord]; Manlio Dinucci, promoter of the “No Guerra No Nato” committee; Alberto Fazolo, economist and freelance journalist who fought with the separatists in Donbas.
It was obvious that this material was leaked, presumably from the intelligence services, so then the question became how. The first target of suspicion was Copsair, which translates as Parliamentary Committee for the Security of the Republic and supervises the various spook services. But if you read the first part of the Il Foglio editorial, its chairman denies that Copsair asked for investigations and was not the source of the leaks. Of course, the intel types could have provided the dossiers to Copsair and been annoyed it hadn’t acted on them.
Our DLG, Reality Czar, who alerted us to this story and has read most of the major accounts in Italian, provided this overview:
Corriere della Sera did an enormously stupid thing, proving one more time that the big establishment papers are in bed with the “intelligence community” and like it.
So a dozen people were listed and photos published in the Sunday edition of the paper of the “filoputiniani” (Putinlovers) who are passing along propaganda. There is now an enormous scandal. The word McCarthyism is being used here. La sporca dozzina, the dirty dozen, according to Marco Travaglio, who is one of them.
As Fatto Quotidiano remarks—but they didn’t include Pope Francis, who has criticized the war in Ukraine quite directly and clearly.
Massimo Cacciari, who has also insisted on a negotiated settlement with Ukraine likely going neutral, is wondering why he didn’t make the list.
Screen capture below. Some of this is local politics that I can’t expect you to get. But it is part of the rapid breakdown in consensus, which leads back to the incompetence of the U.S. and U.K. elites. (Bojo is not admired in Italy.)
Keep in mind that the impetus for this leak may be that there is supposed to be a vote in parliament, finally, on 21 June or thereabouts on Italian participation in the Ukraine war. Right now, as in the USA, the war is being carried on without parliament’s assent or oversight. This is Giuseppe Conte’s big criticism, and he is instrumental in forcing the vote. Tied to this is Article 11 of the Italian Constitution, which does not allow participation in aggressive war (defense of the borders only), which is being invoked by many commenters these days. The result is that Article 11 likely doesn’t allow shipment of armaments to Ukraine. More impetus to embarrass the dissidents.
Note that the dirty dozen are not not the most prominent war doubters in Italy. Matteo Salvini, the head of the Lega Nord party, and not-yet-devoid-of-influence former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi have been questioning the cost to Italy.
Italy had also tried to revive peace talks, albeit by presenting (apparently informally) a four point plan that was wildly short of anything Russia might consider. But in keeping, a few days before Henry Kissinger said what seemed to be unthinkable at the World Economic Forum, that Ukraine needed to negotiate with Russia and be prepared to cede territory, Prime Minister Mario Draghi called for a ceasefire and tried to finesse the issue of whether Italy would provide Ukraine with more arms. Note that in addition to the constitutional question, key members of Draghi’s coalition are also opposed. From Reuters on May 19:
“A ceasefire must be achieved as soon as possible,” Draghi told the upper house Senate…
There is little public support in Italy for supplying military assistance for Ukraine, opinion polls show….
Rome has so far adopted three decrees authorising arms supplies, without revealing the types of weapons provided.
“When someone, even in this House, repeats the call to send in more weapons … I won’t stand for it,” said League leader Matteo Salvini, addressing the Senate after Draghi.
The 5-Star’s lower house leader Davide Crippa said arms shipments were “not effective in building peace” and called on Draghi to show “more courage” by holding a vote on the issue.
More detail on the growing political scandal from DLG:
Some quotes from today’s Fatto Quotidiano, which is highly incensed.
According to Marco Travaglio on the front page in a column called The Dirty Dozen, the secret services were indeed gathering dossiers on journalists, intellectuals, and politicians who are dissenting and not toeing the dominant line of thought (which would have Draghi and the Partito Democratico as the main exponents). These dossiers were leaked to Corriere della Sera, which published details on the dirty dozen, along with their photos.
As in any political crisis like this, the intelligence “community” isn’t talking, and the parliamentarians are claiming not to know. Critics are asking why there was no oversight.
nside the paper, Ilaria Proietti has a newsier discussion of the scandal, in which she points out that one odd coinkydink is that Vito Petrocelli, also 5Stars, like Conte, was just forced out as chair of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs—and now finds himself on the list as a “filoputiniano.” The implication is that the intelligence community was investigating him as a parliamentarian, which is against the law.
Giuseppe Conte is quoted by Proietti as calling them investigations (presunte inchieste) and uses the term “proscription lists,’ which goes back to ancient Rome and is a rather bloody reference.
Massimo Cacciari is quoted in a third article, an interview with Tommaso Rodano, as saying that he thinks parliament didn’t know about the dossiers/investigations. Yet he also uses the word “vile” to describe the events. Let’s revive the word “vile,” please.
As always with Our Dems, they can’t wait to fail. There’s an embarrassing quote from Enrico Borghi in the Proietti article in which Borghi brushes it all aside with “we’re at war to defend the republic” stuff. “Balle,” as we say here.
So there is some mystery, just as when dealing with Mr. Big Jim Comey, as to how these dossiers and accusations escape from the secret services. If we go by U.S. practices, the dossiers do exist—something Marco Travaglio considers almost normal—but the leaks and manipulation are well timed indeed.
Finally, Alessandro Orsini, one of the dirty dozen. is threatening to sue Corriere della Sera for defamation. More background from DLG:
Orsini is a professor at LUISS, the business school in Roma (kinduva MBA program), originally started by and supported by Confindustria, you know, that organization that thinks the minimum wage should be 9 euro/hour and that labor costs have to go down. He is a prof of international relations with a specially in study of terrorism.
He has been in a controversy about his appearances on TV. In particular, he has caused controversy by contradicting the prevailing views of the war on Ukraine on a show called Cartabiancq,
The funny thing about Alessandro Orsini is that he looks like the typical earnest junior professor—tall, skinny, disorderly blond hair. He looks harmless, and he has shaken things up considerably. He’s a good writer—his columns are highly readable.
Remember that Italy has been in a slow-moving depression since the end of the financial crisis. It was particularly hard hit by Covid due its close connections to China (fashion industry), its aged population, and its thinned-out hospitals (a side effect of austerity). It still has the weakest banks in Europe and they happened to be particularly exposed to Russia (Unicredit was still hemming and hawing about what to do about its Russia operations. It’s just “widened” its search for buyers, which Mr. Market weirdly took as positive, when that means they haven’t found anyone yet who will meet Unicredit’s minimum). And Italy is the second biggest buyer of Russian gas, after Germany. All of those add up to the sanctions blowback being particularly painful when there wasn’t much enthusiasm for the war from the get go. So this dossier scandal could put simmering tensions on a full boil.
—“A ceasefire must be achieved as soon as possible,” Draghi told the upper house Senate…—
To be cynical, Draghi is watching the spread between German and Italian government bonds, which is grinding against Italy’s favor.
The longer the war drags on, the greater the economic global impact and the higher odds of an Italian debt implosion will = 1
This will be interesting to keep an eye on, since in Europe, a good sign of a War being decided in one side’s favor is when Italy switches sides. :)
I’m not a native Italian speaker or anything, but to my Mediterranean ears, filoputiniani sounds more like a play on words for the Italian sons of a wh***, figlio di put****. Putin lovers would be Amanti di Putin, I think. At best, it should be Sons of Putin, but son is figlio, not filo. Unless they’re trying to be clever and pretend it’s an adaptation of the Latin word filum (thread, used in natural sciences for the familiy lines of organisms).
Son of a wh*** is one of the most escalating insults you can use in the Mediterranean countries. You can easily get into a fight if you say it to the wrong person at the wrong time, so it seems incredibly trashy to use it this context. I wonder if that is part of the counterreaction. It’s not something to be used on public figures. Native Italian speakers please let me know if I’m dumb.
The word filoputiniani could be directly translated as “philoputinians”.
The reversal of “filo” (i.e. “filoputiniani” instead of “putinofili”) is possibly intended to alliterate with “figlio di putana” as you suggest, while the ending “-iani” corresponds to “-ians”, i.e. gives the addressed people a tinge of a sectarian group.
I know enough to say that filoputiniani basically means Putin lover. But Italian, unlike English, uses different words for love. Amore is used to say I love you, ti Amo, and used with your lover, partner, or with whom you’re having sex. Ti voglio bene means I love you but said between people who are very close to each other; relatives, your children, close friends, etc.
Filo or philo in English as in philosophy; filosofia in Italian, is love of knowledge or wisdom, and filoputiani which is plural would be all those people who are fond of or admire Putin. And it’s used as an insult.
Is it possible that “filoputiniani” literally means “Putin lover,” but also has snarky “s.o.b.” overtones?
One use of filo/fila is in puppet strings
Hence that would imply people who are Putin puppets
Thank you, Yves.
Further to Italy’s exposure, one may add its indirect exposure via Unicredit’s Bank Austria (the former Creditanstalt) and deposits at the French banks with Italian operations exposed to Russia, e.g. Credit Agricole and BNP Paribas.
Italy lobbied for strategic carve outs, including banking, hydrocarbons, luxury goods and railways, when EU sanctions were first proposed, but failed.
One puzzle is the Agnelli owned hawks La Stampa and Economist. The Agnelli family had good relations with the USSR and its Russian successor, but the current generation led by John Elkann seems bent on ruining those ties.
“former Creditanstalt …” Somewhere in my decaying old memory cells that rings a bell. Isn’t this the bank that holds 1/3 of the 12 billion-dollar NordStream 2 debt?
I don’t know. The bank is accident prone and had an inglorious role in the 1920s, 1930s and noughties.
Excellent point, Colonel Smithers, about that media puzzle: Since the start of the war, LaStampa has devoted the first eight or ten pages to pure propaganda. One day, the paper gave the number of Russian dead–sourced from the Ukrainian government. Naturally, the paper has also covered the recently discredited rape allegations against the Russians. And poor Anna Zafesova, panting for the imminent collapse of the Russian economy.
I hope that there are consequences, much as I enjoy La Stampa’s local coverage, the book section, and the indispensable TorinoSette on Fridays.
Yet I have taken to reading Fatto Quotidiano on Mondays through Thursdays so as not to fall into the swamp of LaStampa’s delusions.
Is it the Elkann branch that is ruining the paper?
Elkann is the main family manager. The others, eg Nasi and de Pahlen, are prepared to let Elkann get on with it.
Elkann is the least Italian in the clan. His outlook, demeanour and relationships are more American, if that means or implies anything.
Under Elkann’s leadership, much of the family’s activities, including tax domiciles and company registrations, have shifted to the UK, Netherlands and even France. The family has loosened its Italian moorings.
Just last night, I saw that the weekly TV “investigative” news program “Report” had a report on the “ethics” of 5 Star politicians. I did not have a chance to watch the program in full, but the bit I saw seemed a bit of a hit job on the M5S movement. A number of M5S politicians joined the Lega in insisting that we should negotiate instead of crying WAR! WAR! WAR!, and this left me wondering when and how would the establishment make them pay.
Given that the state TV (RAI) seems closely tied with the Democratic Party, it did not seem much of a surprise to me that they would use their media mouthpieces to attack those who oppose them. One only need remember the hit job done on the erstwhile mayor of Riace (Mimmo Lucano) to see how the political establishment can destroy dissidents here in Italy.
All my friends and acquaintances (as well as practically everyone with whom I’ve engaged in a political discussion) do not seem to be so easily fooled. Even among many business conservatives, Nazis are not appreciated and many remember the involvements of the Secret Services in several devastating bombings (Bologna, Piazza Fontana, etc.) during the “Years of Lead”. While they may feel that Russia’s attack was unwarranted, everyone understands that it was a set-up job. This is in highly industrialized Veneto, where the Lega is dominant, but even local Demorat party supporters seem very disillusioned by the rigid stupidity exhibited by the Party nomenklatura. If the Covid pro-vax propaganda wasn’t bad enough, this Soviet style suppression of dissent about the war in Ukraine disturbs me greatly. I am not sure if “resistance to being fooled” is enough to stop this madness.
First off, many thanks to DLG, Reality Czar for bringing this story up. I suppose that the most that you can say is that Italian people are lucky with their enemies as they are so pathetic and transparent. The Italians have long had good relations with the Russians that go back to the Napoleonic wars and were renewed when the Russians sent medical teams to Italy during the first months of the pandemic. But the present leadership have burned all that down under their unelected leader Mario Draghi and even this messy op was so badly executed, that it has blown up in their faces. Italy is yet another country that need wholesale change of their leadership class as they too have proven themselves to be not fit for purpose.
I used to read these finance blogs that for years after 09 were sounding the alarm that European banks were still in deep trouble. Then, maybe because nothing had happened for so long, these concerns just gradually faded away. My assumption is that the reflation of bubble economics papered over the issues well enough that it was sort of put on hold indefinitely. An energy crisis is probably more than enough to bring a European financial crisis out of the woodworks. Hey, but at least American oil companies are doing well during all of this.
Thank you Reality Czar and Yves. Is it time to play destabilization bingo?
Orwellian. Chilling to read about this.
Led by an M.I.T/World Bank/Golden Sacks globalist, is Italy even a sovereign nation any more? No, clearly it is not.
Very similar dynamics have been in Portugal as well with dissenting voices suggesting anything other than escalation.
Absolutely not a homework request, but I would love to hear more about this type of thing from other areas of Europe (links in local languages fine)!
Another thanks to DLG and Yves for this! I am especially interested in how Greece is doing, they seem like a case of a dog not barking so far (aside from the recent ship seizures).
According to YouTuber Alex Christoforou, Greece has been burning all their relationships down so are now being isolated by their own hands.
Same in Norway, southern coastal town Arendal, local paper Agderposten.no going totally overboard, 2 pages devoted to the “sensational” news that a female councilor, my youngest daughter, was sharing articles on social media by famous US professors Mearsheimer and Cohen analyzing, criticizing, warning for years that NATO expansion east could have negative consequences for European stability, cooperation and peace with Russia.- our neighbour up north. Putin is vilified, “he alone responsible for the war”. “He invaded Ukraine” But the sensation was not articles no even engaged in discussing or bothered to read. They had been translated by “Russia- Putinlovers” printed on a legal blog by a guy who, 50 years ago, as a young man, became infamous for his politics and visiting Cambodia, North Korea, Albania, maybe Soviet too. The scandal was touching and reading anything on that blog, stigmatized and “indexed” by the local McCarhyist thought police parrotting the US-NATO-Stoltenberg mantra of Ukraine a democratic country, right to choose to join EU, NATO etc. And then – smitten with Russiaphobia – our Parliament voted to let the USA have 5 bases on Norwegian soil. First time since WWII. Thanks, Stoltenberg and PM Støre. Good grief.
Massimo Cacciari, who has also insisted on a negotiated settlement with Ukraine likely going neutral, is wondering why he didn’t make the list.
I am reminded of Nixon’s Enemies List. Soon, Cacciari may be leading a host of major and minor pols and celebrities who will be expressing indignation in that fabulously indescribable Italian way as to why they were not included on the infamous “filoputiniani”. If my “Nixoniani” is correct his list of enemies were inundated by swanky party invitations.
Has the collective leaders of the western world gotten so senile they are reliving their childhoods?
Talking about the values like “democracy” or “free speech” or “right to dissent” which are putatively at the core of Constitutions and Treaties that eurocrats, as well as member state’s bureaucrats, claim to defend in Ukraine. Dark times are these and stupidity goes downstream with ease. Good that Italy is rising doubts on the supposed west consensus.
I am surprised by the stance of the Italian government against Russia. As far as I can remember, Russia has always been the best friend Italy was not allowed to have.
Italian industrialization after WWII basically started when the Soviet Union started selling us oil at a discount. Italian movies and books were always popular in the USSR. Soviet intellectuals could always find an audience in Italy. Italian Communists loved Russia, Italian capitalists built factories across the Iron Curtain. Russians love Italian fashion and Italian scooters, and Italians love Russian tourists and Russian girls. Berlusconi was Putin’s best friend, and when Berlusconi fell, the Dems welcomed Putin just as warmly.
The list goes on. That South Tyrol is still part of Italy, was Stalin’s idea. That Trieste is still in Italy is only because of Tito’s spat wih Stalin. Ladas are made in Toljatti, a city named after the leader of the Italian Communist Party. The first edition of Doctor Zhivago was in Italy. The Italian government was pro-Serbian (because of the ties to Russia) up until it was cajoled into bombing it. There is an Italian school funded by the Italian state in Moscow. All major parties have direct or indirect connections to Russia, And while the Kingdom of Sardinia fought against the Russians in the Crimean War, the Kingdom of Naples supported them.
Everybody is pro-Russian in Italy, or so I thought.
Then Draghi comes along, and starts acting tough with our major gas supplier, and shadow partner in Lybia and now Algeria. And now this spaghetti-Western equivalent of PropOrNot.