La Stampa findings on intelligence-gathering nature of Russian mission in Italy confirmed?

And a serious challenge to freedom of speech in Europe too?

Russia is officially threatening an Italian newspaper over the report revealing the true objective of the Russian military team deployed in Italy. The analysis of documentary material confirms the conclusions made by La Stampa on the intelligence-driven nature of the Russian mission, which is being concealed under the pretext of “assistance” in fighting the novel coronavirus.

Italian journalist Christian Rocca said, “The Russian Ministry of Defense, which currently deployed soldiers and agents on Italian soil, intimidates Italian journalists as it usually does at home.” The statement followed threats voiced by Russian defense ministry spox Igor Konashenkov against La Stampa journo Jacopo Iacoboni. These threats were related to his report, which, among other things, said the Kremlin had deployed intelligence agents, along with bacteriological warfare experts, as part of the Russian “assistance” mission to Italy.  The Russian official had his press release published on the Facebook page of the Russian Embassy in Rome. It concludes with a threat to La Stampa journalists: “As for the relations with the real clients of La Stampa’s russophobia, who are known to us, we recommend that they follow an old maxim: ‘Qui fodit foveam, incidet in eam (He who digs a pit falls into it). To be clearer: Bad penny always comes back.’ From Russia with love.”

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In fact, what Russia did was intimidate Italian journalists through the platform of its embassy in Italy, which makes such a threat the Kremlin’s official position distributed through official diplomatic channels. This is a serious challenge to freedom of speech in Europe, since Moscow had not previously taken such steps on EU soil.

This “From Russia with Love” phrase is known to many thanks to Fleming’s novel and a James Bond movie shot in 1963. The very name of the Russian mission in Italy exposes that the operation is pretty much about espionage.

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