Italy | 04/16/2022

Italy 2022 April


The Liberation Day celebrations of Mussolini’s regime rid with the partisans’ and allies’ reconquest of Milan, the last biggest city in northern Italy takes place on the 25th of 1945. All over the country, the former partisans’ association (ANPI) organizes initiatives and demonstrations with street parades and popular festivals even days before that anniversary. Due to the context of an ongoing new military confrontation in Europe, the main topic of this edition was the referent to the art.11 of the Republican Constitution about the “renounce of the war as a mean of solving international disputes”. This pacifist approach with a firm request to cease-fire and negotiations referring to the conflict in Ukraine, criticizing both Putin’s aggression and NATO destabilizing strategy in Europe, involved ANPI in harsh polemics. Such controversy arose also with representatives of government and its main parties, about the inappropriate comparison between antifascist Resistance and the Ukrainian self-defence, arguing critically about the Italian weapons deployment, thus sparking the attrition of a proxy war.



The changing international situation with its aftermath on energy costs and higher inflation has pushed many parties to ask for further economic measures within government budget law. The political debate focused on new cuts in public expenditures for education and the health system, combined with the parallel increase in military spending up to 2% of GDP. Such imbalances raised also the issue of working poor and inadequate wages since Italy has barely adjusted salaries in the last years, compared to other EU countries. On the 24th of April, a special edition of the traditional ‘Peace March’ from Perugia to Assisi took place, with thousands of participants and also many internationalist and leftist movements asking to ‘put down weapons and up the wages’. In this context, far-right organizations had limited room for their propaganda, with the gradual fading of pandemic restrictions and together with them also popular discontent, attracted by neofascists within ‘no mask, no vax’ movement. Even the traditional funeral procession for Mussolini’s death after his execution on the 28th of April attracted fewer neofascist militants than before. Besides that, the imprisonment of many New Force (FN) leaders and the progressive dismissal of Casapound (CPI) local seats make the two main far-right groups suffer a period of reorganization, downward to local and fragmented associations, or even upward to main institutional right-wing parties. A special mention deserves the programmatic conference of the Brothers of Italy (FdI) party in Milan, which seems to be the most popular party in Italy according to the polls, thus explaining Meloni’s ambition to take the lead of the coalition for the next political elections in 2023, at the expense of Salvini’s Lega and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. A Non-random choice of topics and guests was targeted to reclaim the nationalist party from its nostalgic connection with post-fascist heritage.


A top-down overview of transnational interactions of the far-right results from the participation of Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to FdI convention in Miland “heralding a wave of change in European politics” with his wish to Italian partners to do the “best for the next parliamentary elections “. A controversial issue for Meloni’s party, regarding the usual moderate approach of Italian voters, in opposition to its extreme positioning within European political families, in coalition with the Conservative and Reform Party. Nevertheless, this aspect has been appreciated by Mr Petr Fiala, president of the government of the Czech Republic, greeting the participants with his satisfaction on sharing “several points of view, in particular on the functioning of the European Union and on the international situation”. Indeed the political stand towards the war in Ukraine, regarding parties’ alignment to EU and NATO countermeasures has somehow represented a setback to the pro-Putin affiliation of all main three right-wing parties in Italy. Such incoherence has been less perceived by FdI, since its role in opposition to Mario Draghi’s government, whose supporters are also Lega and Forza Italia. Right from the war front, recent news broadcast further involvement of Italian foreign fighters, alongside the troops of the Ukrainian army. Luca Valvassori’s case caused a sensation in national media, after his presumed death in Mariupol, where he actually got injured in a Russian troops’ attack during his retreat. He’s not the only one enrolled presumably through the official website set up by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and connected to their embassies. The number of Italian foreign fighters is not clear, but around seventeen Italians should be currently involved in the conflict, among those also the former aircraft pilot Giulia Schiff and others, split on both Russian and Ukrainian fronts. The Italian Foreign Minister Di Maio opposed such a choice, referring to charges of “hostile acts against a foreign state that expose Italy to war”, and for “recruiting or arming people to serve another nation”. The Milan prosecutor’s office investigates the story of the young soccer goalkeeper of Italo-Russian origins, volunteering as a fighter, in order to understand if such conduct may be considered criminally relevant under Italian legislation. Some illegal profiles can be appointed to the aggression of Ukrainian neonazi in Bologna, during a festival for peace on the 23rd of April. On the occasion of the ‘Oltre il Ponte’ festival organized against the war escalation by local antifascist groups at the Granma club, where there was a stand of the Ukrainian Anti-Fascist Coordination, a young passer-by railed violently against the organizers, calling other contacts from his mobile phones. About twenty people rushed in time to join the provocation, with verbal aggressions and threats, claiming their nationalist ideology and their belonging to ‘Pravy Sektor’, standing by the side of the Azov battalion, even making the nazist salute. Clashes were avoided by the organization, but in the following days the door of Barnaut club, also participating in the initiative, was damaged like a promoter’s car found with two torn wheels. Such episode is unfortunately not the only one and the ongoing war with further involvement by NATO countries, sending weapons and boosting mainstream propaganda about a ‘confrontation between good and evil forces’, increase intolerance and intimidation towards groups committed to disarmament also in Italy.


International affairs connected with the war in Ukraine underline a trend of progressive legitimation of the nationalist approach. Despite the widespread alarm about the social danger of far-right groups in Italy, mostly after New Force (FN) attack on CGIL trade union headquarter in Rome; even in the mainstream media and in institutional events there’s no stigma on the relationship between Azov Battalion and the far-right party Pravy Sektor, also related to Italian neofascist group Casapound. Ukrainian spokespeople related to such organizations are often interviewed in tv programmes, introducing them as ‘patriots’, thus concealing their nazist background and normalizing the visibility of such groups and their claims. Curiously Italian neofascist groups haven’t boosted support campaigns yet, since their division on the political backing to both contenders and above all due to the redundancy of newsagencies in such an extremist public discourse. Even institutional right-wing parties adopt a more neutral position, compared to baltic or east-European similar organizations, also due to the previous political connection with Putin.


Such relationships have been deeper investigated by the editorial board of the ‘Report’ tv programme, revealing a sort of ‘agreement’ between Matteo Salvini’s trusted person, Luca Savoini, appointed with his Italian-Russian friendship association for developing contacts and affairs with Moscow. The ‘Russiagate’ scandal at the Metropol Hotel in October 2018 has publicly disclosed a secret affair in the oil business, offered by Kremlin oligarchs at very low prices, thus guaranteeing extra profits for Savoini’s company. The same person – connected to far-right Orion magazine and very close to Putin’s counsellor, Aleksandr Dugin – participated together with Salvini, at that time as Italian Foreign Minister, at the assembly of Italian Industrial Union in Russia some months later. These events have been investigated by Italian judges about suspects of international corruption. The political “collaboration agreement” between Italian Lega and Putin’s party ‘Russia United’ dates 2017 and has driven in the last years Salvini’s opposition to economic sanctions against Russia, trying so to influence the public opinion, concerning also some parts of the international security and euro-Asian cooperation.