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Live from Moscow: Italian TV’s lowest point (yet)

An Italian network aired a prime time show from the Red Square, hosting two of the Kremlin’s most powerful propagandists and marking the pro-Russian depth reached by Italy’s media

From Moscow With Talking Points. The unending barrage of Russian propaganda on Italian TV and (social) media is going full steam ahead. The latest episode (May 5) was aired on La7, a private network, from a special location: the Kremlin’s Red Square.

  • Massimo Giletti, a famous Italian anchorman and journalist, hosted Maria Zakharova, who’s in charge of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s communications and is one of Vladimir Putin’s closest propagandists.
  • Next to Mr Giletti was another well-known face of Moscow’s propaganda: TV host and media personality Vladimir Solovyev.

Worse and worse. The programme was supposed to be a reportage, but it ended up being a veritable spectacle. The interview with Ms Zakharova – who, like Mr Solovyev, is under EU sanctions for supporting the Russian war in Ukraine – lasted more than half an hour. Nevertheless, it looked as if she did not appreciate the media attention, and she decided to disparage her host.

  • “It seems to me that you speak for a child,” she replied, caught between mockery and indignation, to the Italian presenter; “I have the impression that you arrived a week ago on Earth.”
  • Between one insult and another, she launched into an extended attack on Italy and the West, especially the United States. She said Washington damaged Rome and other Western allies because they severed relations with Russia.

Enough is enough. Alessandro Sallusti, the editor of the daily Libero who was in the Roman studio, abruptly decided to leave the programme as it unrolled – and he strongly rebuked Mr Giletti before disconnecting.

  • “The worst crimes against humanity of the past and current centuries were organised, greenlit and put into practice in that palace behind you. And you would do well to remind those next to you,” said Mr Sallusti to the host standing in front of the Kremlin. He also remarked on the programme’s “total subservience to the worst propaganda” and “the showmanship” on Italian TV.

It’s a chronic issue. The Russian propagandists’ show on live TV reignited the Italian debate. Italian TV has become the perfect stage for the Kremlin’s megaphones in recent months, ranging from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to “journalists” working for Russia Today and Sputnik.

  • An investigation by COPASIR, the Italian intelligence committee, recently turned the spotlight on pro-Russian pundits and propagandists on Italy’s TV and media.
  • The lingering question is whether these people have direct contact with the government in Moscow. Meanwhile, Italian intelligence is alert and investigating.

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