Sergey Lavrov’s at it again. On Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Minister embarked on yet another propaganda operation. During a presser, he accused the collective West of waging war against Russia, via Ukraine, and seeking a “final solution” to the “Russian question. Just as Hitler wanted to finally solve the Jewish question.”
- In the same presser, he lamented “the speed with which Italy moved not only into the camp of those who joined the sanctions, but into the camp of the leaders of the anti-Russian front, at least under the previous government,” noting it was “somewhat surprising for us.”
- Then, the charm offensive: “I like Italians, they are very similar to Russians, and Russians like the Italian way of life. I can’t see them as people who build walls and barriers,” he went on, finally declaring that “the attitude of confrontation [with Russia] has been imposed on Europe” and therefore also on Italy.
Alfredo Mantovano’s response. Speaking at a presentation of the upcoming Memorial Day initiatives, the Undersecretary to the Prime Minister’s Office called Mr Lavrov’s remarks “nonsense” and a “trivialisation of the persecution,” calling him to retain “a sense of measure.”
- He underscored how remembrance on January 27 also helps ensure that “the Shoah is not given a misleading reading, as if it were an issue that concerns only Jews” – as happened with Mr Lavrov’s own interpretation.
- “There is a worrying increase in episodes of anti-Semitism, in the world as in Europe and also in Italy,” added Mr Mantovano, noting that the government’s attention “is very concrete. With my delegations, I can guarantee constant monitoring on anti-Semitic cyberspace, especially on social media, where the context is that of growing resentment.”
It’s a playbook. That wasn’t the first time the Kremlin’s official diplomatic channels opted to bad-mouth Italy and seek to sow social distrust, with the ultimate aim of weakening the Western countries’ support of Ukraine, including through conspiratorial and antisemitic language.
- Back in May, during an infamous interview on Italian TV, Mr Lavrov had depicted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as an antisemite and a Nazi. And when commenting on the fact that Mr Zelensky is himself Jewish, the Russian FM had retorted that “that amounts to nothing: Hitler, too, was of Jewish origin,” and that “all the worst antisemites are Jewish.”
- That interview was part of a broader Russian propaganda effort, which encompassed multiple Italian television channels, social media, and the Kremlin’s official appendages.