Italy summons Russian ambassador over media coverage criticism

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Russian ambassador to Italy, Sergey Razov, makes a statement to the press, in Rome

ROME (Reuters) - Italy summoned Russia's ambassador on Monday to protest over criticism from Moscow of coverage by the Italian media of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Italian foreign ministry said in a statement it "rejected insinuations concerning the alleged involvement of our country's media in an anti-Russian campaign".

It added that it "firmly rejected accusations of amorality" levelled at certain unnamed Italian officials and journalists by the Russian foreign ministry.

The Russian embassy in Rome posted a statement on Facebook saying Ambassador Sergey Razov had repudiated the criticism during his meeting with the secretary general of Italy's foreign ministry.

"He pointed out that the propaganda line that is dominating in the Italian media can hardly be qualified otherwise than as hostile," the statement said.

"He called for moderation and balance, traditional for Italian foreign policy, in the interest of maintaining positive relations and cooperation between the Russian and Italian peoples in the long term."

Russia's denunciation of Italian media coverage runs in the face of censure within Italy itself of perceived pro-Russian bias by some influential television news shows.

An Italian parliamentary panel last month opened an investigation into allegations of "disinformation" on television following the frequent appearance of Russian guests on the country's news programmes during the war in Ukraine.

The Parliamentary Committee for the Security of the Republic (Copasir), which oversees the intelligence services, said it was looking into "foreign interference and disinformation activity" in the coverage of the conflict, now in its third month.

On Sunday, a news show on La7 channel was criticised after hosting part of its prime-time programme in Moscow, giving ample air time to allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Veteran Italian newspaper editor Alessandro Sallusti, who was also invited to take part in the show, walked out in protest during the live broadcast. "I am witnessing total servility to the worst kind of propaganda," he said.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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