This is exactly the case where Italian populists lobbying the Kremlin's interests in Europe as a whole and in Italy in particular are "getting a big whooping", so to say. Now, representatives of the right-wing Lega Nord got between the grinders of a showdown between Russia's FSB security agency and GRU military intel.
I should recall that in mid-July, BuzzFeed News, which from time to time publishes stories that clearly go beyond the borders of open access, released secret recordings of negotiations between the deputies of the Lega Nord, whose head is Italian Vice Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, and Russian officials. These talks were held at a Moscow-based Metropol Hotel in October 2018. It was about clarifying the issues of Russian financing for the Italian party through oil transactions with the Italian energy giant Eni.
In my piece "Who is exposing corrupt Italian politicians, and why", I wondered how the American publication could get these recordings? After all, it's only the FSB who could make them in the first place, given the long history of this security agency "monitoring" this particular hotel in Moscow. But, taking into account the fact that negotiations with the Italians were conducted along the GRU line, I had no doubt whatsoever that it was precisely the FSB guys who once again delivered a blow against their "competitors".
The thing is that in the current conditions of poor funding, the FSB is engaged in a serious struggle for projects on the geopolitical bridgehead. The FSB is deprived of the opportunity to establish and maintain international contacts with Kremlin puppets, and its SVR (foreign intelligence) appendage on this line is nothing but... an appendage.
And therefore, it is not surprising that the FSB are trying to discredit the GRU as much as possible in the eyes of the Russian leadership in order to take control over this feeder, at least partially. And another confirmation of this suggestion later emerged on that very BuzzFeed News.
An investigation was published recently regarding numerous Moscow trips of an assistant to Matteo Salvini, Mr Gianluco Savoini. The report inked by a joint team of BuzzFeed News, Bellingcat, and Insider says that Savoini met with the ideologist of the "Russian world", Alexander Dugin.
This report already has multiple reposts and shares by a wide set of news outlets but none of them really mention the most important thing: this was the second, and just as serious, blow to Putin's "Italian friends" and GRU, within less than a month.
While commenting on the first spin I was guided solely by my conclusions, being aware of the internal squabbles between the FSB-SVR and GRU, as well as of the fact that it is simply unrealistic to make secret video or audio recordings at Metropol without the FSB knowledge, now, as they say, the security agents pretty much blew their cover in full.
The fact is that the investigation on "Putin's Italian friends" involved such a news outlet as The Insider and personally Roman Dobrokhotov. This name is familiar to my regular readers because I note this name quite often, but not in the context of his socio-political activities, but in that of the penetrated correspondence of Putin's aide Vladislav Surkov, the result of a hacking effort by the "Anonymous International" group, aka Shaltai Boltai [Humpty Dumpty].
If someone forgot, this group was supervised by one of the leaders of the FSB Information Security Center, Sergei Mikhailov, his deputy Dmitry Dokuchaev, and former head of the computer incident investigation department of Kaspersky Lab (LabKas is also under the supervision of the FSB) Ruslan Stoyanov. Besides, that report was also spun including through Roman Dobrokhotov's site, The Insider.
And now, the next exposure of the GRU operation, hitting both the Kremlin’s agents and the reputation of military intelligence is also carried out by the FSB, as it can be safely assumed.
In principle, almost everything suits us in this conflict, both the internal squabbles of the GRU and the FSB, and the regular exposures of their agents, and disunity, as well as mutual distrust and hostility, which can develop into an open conflict.
The negative thing about this story is that the Kremlin puppets in Italy have already shown that they are extinguishing the fire of scandals by focusing public opinion on distracting topics. For example, an egregious verdict handed down to Vitaliy Markiv, as well as police raids on enclaves of radicals in northern Italy, with a "Ukrainian trace" which was never there. And all this was done exactly against the background of the first spin in relation to "Putin's Italian friends".
How will they put out a fire this time? We'll see. But the main thing is that we're aware of whose the recipe is for making the snakes wriggle on a pan, who is the cook, and what kind of oil he regularly pours.