By Yuri Zotov
On Monday night, Italian television channel Rete 4, property of Berlusconi's Mediaset group, broadcast in Italian language the documentary on Vladimir Putin by the title "The President", that was originally produced in 2014 by Russian television "TV Rossija1".
According to Russian news agency Tass, the show was followed by 639,000 Italian viewers with a percentage of approximately 8.85% on a national scale.
It is plausible to believe that the decision to broadcast "The President" was a consequence of the increasing sympathy and support of the Italian people towards Russia and president Putin because of his strong and active role in fighting Isis and other Islamic extremist groups linked to Wahhabi ideology and to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Italy is right in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, it is a "bridge" between Europe and north-Africa and it is right next to the Balkan area, which is a new hot spot for Wahhabi extremism. In addition, the presence of jihadists in Libya can only bring more concern for Rome.
So far NATO and US policies have only damaged the Italian economy, initially with the military intervention against Libya, which was one of Italy's best economic partners; an intervention which did not bring the so-called "democracy" in the north African country, but a civil war.
The forced sanctions on Russia did the rest, damaging an economy that was already at stake because of the recession. In fact, Italy and Russia had very strong commercial and touristic ties; sanctions brought a conspicuous loss of commissions for many industries in central and northern Italy.
As for the media reactions to the show on Vladimir Putin, while most mainstream ones were impartial, some were extremely critical and it is quite easy to figure out which ones and the reasons: all that needs to be done is search information about the owners and the financiers behind them. We will leave this task to those who are willing to conduct some investigations.
Newspaper "Il Fatto Quotidiano" published an article written by Leonardo Coen by the title "Russia, Mediaset bows to the Zar: Rete 4 boradcasts Putin's apotheosis. No journalism, only idolatry".
The Italian version of "Vice" went even further with an ironic article which basically accused Rete 4 of being a "branch of Kremlin's propaganda" and compared it to the north Korean television.
Now, we all know what runs behind Vice and we can recall an episode broadcast by Vice in March 2015 on jihad in Daghestan, where imprecise if not distorted informations were provided on the north-Caucasian country and on the Tsarnaev brothers. Italian online newspaper Intellettuale Dissidente uncovered such fact with an article published on March 28th 2015.
Russia and the "Block"
Italy, just like other European countries such as France, Slovakia and Greece, have many interests in common with Russia; interests linked to economic relations, tourism, security that naturally push towards a common vision for Middle East policies. Italian public opinion's consent for Moscow has increased in the last 12 months while views on the US administration's policies are at the lowest; these are all facts that the EU should carefully ponder on.
On December 9th Italy delayed an EU decision to extend economic sanctions against Russia, demanding a further discussion within the block. The surprising move came at a meeting of EU envoys in Brussels on Wednesday.
"We have asked for a discussion on the matter," said Tiziana d'Angelo, a spokeswoman for the Italian mission to the EU, Reuters reports.
After it turned out that Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov included the Fonbet betting company in the list of backbone enterprises that can count on state support, everyone started talking about these bookmakers.