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Opposition attacks Italian PM over Russian pranksters call

Giorgia Meloni’s fail was a “planetary gaffe” and a national humiliation, critics have said

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has let her nation down by getting tricked into discussing matters of national security by a pair of Russian pranksters, politicians from opposition parties have claimed.

Giuseppe Conte of the Five Star Movement, who held the Italian premiership from 2018 to 2021, has branded the incident a “planetary gaffe.” Meloni revealed things to Russian comedians Vovan and Lexus that she never told Italians, he pointed out, in a scolding social media post on Wednesday, after the tape was made public.

“She continues sending weapons to Ukraine with no time limit and pursues this military escalation. But she is apparently aware that a negotiated way out is necessary, which would protect the interests of both parties,” he said, adding that the prank caused “serious damage to Italy” and exposed “a huge deception” of its people.

In the call, Meloni said there was “a lot of fatigue” with the Ukraine conflict and that soon everyone would agree that a resolution acceptable to both sides was needed. Other issues discussed were Kiev’s failure to secure much territory during the summer counteroffensive against Russia, European energy security, and illegal migration in the EU.

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Ukraine conflict ‘fatigue’ is growing, Italian PM tells pranksters

Matteo Renzi of the Italia Viva party, who served as prime minister in the 2010s, called the situation “shameful for Italy” and for the incumbent leader of the government personally.

“I wonder how it was possible to reach such a level of irresponsibility,” he fumed. “Meloni needs help. If this is the level of her team, we’re just not where we should be.”

Renzi said the prime minister should stop blaming others for her own failures, considering Italy’s credibility was at stake, and called her complaints about EU bureaucrats undermining Italian policy on illegal migrants a “sign of weakness.”

“The premier must put an end to this cosmic victimhood and stop posing as a target of malice and conspiracies,” he urged.

The Democratic Party’s Lorenzo Guerini, who also chairs the parliamentary committee overseeing the country’s intelligence services (COPASIR), argued that ensuring that a similar breach of security is not repeated in the future was now the priority.


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The office of the prime minister expressed “regret” over the prank and said it was “misled” into believing that Meloni was being called by Moussa Faki, the chairman of the African Union Commission. Vovan and Lexus did not reveal the identity they assumed to trick Meloni, simply calling him an African politician.

The entertainers have claimed it took them about two days to orchestrate the deception and that a public record of the call was now available, barring some unpleasantries.

 

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