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US warns its embassies of potential Kremlin cash funnelled to parties around the world

A diplomatic cable sent to US embassies warned that Kremlin cash had been funnelled to parties sympathetic to the Kremlin around the world. The State Department has confirmed the existence of the cable but did not specify which countries and parties they are suspecting of having taken Russian money.

The information has led to speculation, accusations and denials in Italy, which is holding elections on September 25. The news of a US intelligence dossier, detailing a USD 300 million covert international influence campaign by the Kremlin, has caused alarm in Italy.

The suspicion of Russian influence could damage the chances of the right-wing or the populist parties that have historically had close ties to Russia or those politicians who have parroted propaganda favourable to Putin.

In final polls published on Saturday, a right-wing coalition was on course to win a comfortable majority of seats, led by the hard-right Brothers of Italy party, at 25 percent.
Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing League, which has a cooperation agreement with the Putin-supporting United Russia party, said he had never taken any money from Moscow.

“I’m working on Italy. The parties working on Russia 10 days before an election that is about schools, health, pensions and work have no idea about Italy,” he said.

Giuseppe Conte, leader of the 5 Star Movement, which has opposed the sending of more arms to Ukraine, said his party was “transparent” and had nothing to do with the Russian funding scandal. He said the alleged interference risked “polluting the electoral campaign with insinuations and inferences.”

Left-wing politicians called for any individuals and parties involved to be named, before the vote. Leader of the centrist More Europe party and undersecretary for foreign affairs Benedetto Della Vedova wrote on Facebook, that any financing by Moscow was “very serious and we need clarity on it before the vote.”

Russia’s election meddling

According to Politico, the US State Department believes that since 2014, Russia has been throwing money at policies and parties which are sympathetic to Moscow. Cash has been allegedly sent to organizations and individuals worldwide.

State Department spokesman Ned Price described Russia’s “election meddling” as “an effort to chip away at the ability of people around the world to choose the government that they see best fit to represent them, to represent their interests, to represent their values.”

The US intends to expose Russia’s tactics by putting “a spotlight” on them and sharing information with allies, he said.

Rome has been seeking assurances from the US about whether Italy is named in the document. Prime Minister Mario Draghi spoke to Blinken on Wednesday. In a readout, Blinken’s spokesperson said he “underscored the importance of maintaining solidarity and resistance in the face of Russia’s efforts to use energy and other means to divide countries that support Ukraine.”

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