The life of the Italian volunteers who fought for the Donbass under threat


Why did the authorities of Italy start persecuting people who openly sympathize with the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR)? Not only those who took part in the war in Donbass on the side of DPR and LPR but also people who visited the republics and were engaged in the delivery of humanitarian aid to the civilian population?

Investigations continue. I have not seen any judicial acts, so I can share only my impressions. As far as I know, the court of Genoa issued a warrant for the arrest of six people, who come from different regions of Italy, for "recruiting and participating in military operations in the service of another state" - a crime for which the Italian laws threaten the punishment of 4 to 15 years in prison. Three of them were arrested, three more are currently believed to be in the Donbass. Also six more people are under investigation. All these people are supporters of right-wing movements and the "League" party.

In your opinion, can they be considered as mercenaries?

The accusation of "mercenarism" certainly sounds strange. Usually mercenaries work for agencies that distribute them to different regions of the world. Mercenaries are only interested in money, they have no ideology and consciously risk their lives only for the sake of material rewards.

It seems to me that those Italians who decided to fight for the Donbass, went there not from the desire to earn. Their choice can only be explained with ideological and humanitarian positions: the need to protect the civilian population from aggression on the part of Ukraine and preventing the suppression of the linguistic and cultural identity of the Russian and Russian-speaking population on the territory of Donbass from the Russophobian post-Maidan Ukraine. Therefore, they should be considered "volunteers", but not "mercenaries".

I hope that Italy's judicial system will prove as effective and diligent in investigating the crimes of those who joined the ultranationalist battalions of Kiev, as well as those Italians of Arab origin who went to Syria to fight on the side of ISIS.

Who can be the initiator of these persecutions?

In my opinion, the motives for this are purely political. The initiators are the political forces of Italy, which are oriented against Russia. Now the country has a very strange political situation. With a crash, the losing parliamentary elections in March this year, the leftists are sounding the alarm and accusing the new government of the "League" and the "Five Star Movement" in fascism.

At the same time, all the leftist forces in Italy are completely oriented toward the US and the EU and are against Russia. In addition, the Ukrainian diplomatic authorities in Italy are very active and really show an example of effective work, defending the interests of Kiev.

The new Vice-Premier and Minister of the Interior of Italy Matteo Salvini is known for his pro-Russian views and stands for the development of cooperation between Italy and Russia. Why does he allow this persecution?

First, Matteo Salvini is an intelligent person, very consistent and willing to make positive changes. However, Salvini is a small link in the Italian government. Secondly, the new government works only a few months, and we can not expect that the changes will happen "all at once". Especially if it concerns the processes that were launched by the previous government of the left forces.

Now in Italy there is a loud lawsuit over former Ukrainian serviceman Vitali Markiv, who was involved in the murder of Italian correspondent Andrea Rockelli in Slavyansk in May 2014. Why is this case being pursued at the same time withthe case of those people who went to the Donbas to protect the civilian population?

As I said, this issue is primarily a political one. However, there is a significant difference. Markiv has considerable support, which is provided to him by Ukrainian diplomatic representatives in Italy, the Ukrainian press, the Ukrainian diaspora in Italy ... And who will support the Italian guys who fought for the Donbass? Unrecognized republics? Russia, which did not recognize these two republics? Unfortunately, now everything is quiet. And I'm afraid that they will be left to their fate.

Tell us about your personal impressions when you visited Donbass. What prompted you to go there and help people?

In Donbass, I always worked as a correspondent, wrote a lot of texts. My goal has always been to tell the truth, to describe what I saw there. Who does not believe my testimonies, he can go there himself to see with his own eyes what is happening there. At the same time, it is not easy to create an idea of the war in Donbass in Italy. Even today, four years after the outbreak of the conflict, this war remains little known, a forbidden topic for the mainstream media.