Russia proposed the Italian far-right League party $3,4 million to help contest the elections in the European Parliament in May, EU Observer reported referring to two Italy’s investigative journalists.
This offer was discussed between Ilya Yakunin, a Kremlin-backed Russian businessman, and Gianluca Savoini, a senior League member, at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow on October 18, 2018.
“The proposal was for a Russian state oil firm, Rosneft, to sell diesel at a discounted price to Italian energy firm Eni via an intermediary, such as a European bank or a Russian company,” the news agency reads.
According to Stefano Vergine, one of the two Italian investigative journalists, details on “how the kick-back would be channelled to the League were not discussed at the Metropol meeting”.
Yet, the Italian lawyer who came with Savoini did reportedly say to Yakunin: "The plan made by our 'political guys' is simple. Given the four percent discount, they pay €250,000 a month, for a year. So that can support the campaign".
"We want to finance the election campaign, so this is good for both parties," the lawyer added.
The journalists from Italy said they had no proof that the deal was ever implemented. However, they had firm evidence to back up their report on the talks.
"We were at the Metropol on 18 October and we've got all the pieces of evidence proving what we wrote," Vergine told stated.
The revelations were published in Italian magazine L’Espresso. The League in its turn denied the report and threatened to sue the news agency. The Spokesperson of the party said the article was based on "absurd and unfounded suppositions".
Rosneft also denied it and threatened to sue.
"Who's saying? What sources? What are they based on? ... Let's ask the newspaper what they're basing this on," Kremlin’s Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated.
The League Party is polling to storm the victory in the elections to the European Parliament in Italy, yet it needs money to do so as the Supreme Court froze some of its funds last year in a previous fraud case.
Salvini himself is a fan of Putin, the President of Russia. In the past, he has criticized EU anti-Russian sanctions.