After a day of continuous mutual suspicions and accusations, Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini gave free rein to his frustration on Wednesday night. "The trust is destroyed, even on a personal level," said the leader of the right-wing Lega to the address of the other vice premier, Luigi Di Maio of the five-star protest movement. For months he had trusted the coalition partner – and in return had reaped "innumerable insults". Out of defiance and anger Salvini has skipped a government meeting and a discussion on a new autonomy law on Friday.
The reason for the most serious disagreement among the Roman coalition partners to date was the election of Ursula von der Leyen as the new EU Commission President. The "Grillini" had voted for the German, the Lega against them. Prime Minister Conte has publicly accused Salvini of damaging the country. Italy is now even more isolated in Brussels than it already is because of the permanent anti-European failures of the Minister of the Interior. Salvini did not let that rest on his shoulders: "The Five Stars have betrayed Italy's voters: they have promised a fundamental change in Europe, and now they are voting with Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Matteo Renzi and Silvio Berlusconi with representatives of the "old, wasted Europe".
Salvini is getting nervous
The real reason for Salvinis nervousness is not the choice of the Leyens. "Matteo shot us in the back in Brussels to distract attention from the story with donations for the Lega from Russia," said Di Maio. Instead of providing the government partner with a "sea of vulgar fake news", the interior minister should better "decide whether his interests are more important to him than the interests of the country." The Chamber of Deputies President Roberto Fico accused Salvini of a "grave lack of institutional respect" because the Lega chief continues to refuse to give parliament a donation scandal.
For the explosive meeting of three Salvini confidants with three Russians from the environment of President Vladimir Putin in Moscow daily new details come to light. Among other things, it has become known that Salvini knew from the meeting what he had previously denied. For the coming weekend, the weekly magazine "L'Espresso" has announced further revelations: Documents in the possession of the magazine, showed that the negotiations on illegal party donations from Moscow in the amount of 65 million dollars to the Lega would have persisted for months. So far, the parties had always argued that it was an accidental, one-time meeting, which had come to little more than harmless chitchat.
The "chats" in October last year at the Hotel Metropol in Moscow are an extremely serious event, the significance of which Salvini is beginning to see. One of his closest confidants tried to get illegal donations of tens of millions from the Kremlin for the Lega's European election campaign. In return he promised a Moscow-friendly and EU-hostile government policy in Rome. Former Socialist Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said that this was nothing but "high treason", even though the money did not finally flow, as it now seems.Dominik Straub