Saturday, December 04, 2010

Wikileaks: "Berlusconi Acted as a 'Mouthpiece' for Putin"

Note: See the U.K. Guardian links to their main page about the US Embassy Cables and also to the actual cables.

"US diplomats have reported startling suspicions that [Italy's Prime Minister] Silvio Berlusconi [see link for more] could be "profiting personally and handsomely" from secret deals with the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, according to cables released by WikiLeaks.

Exasperated by Berlusconi's pro-Russian behaviour, American embassy staff detail allegations circulating in Rome that the Italian leader has been promised a cut of huge energy contracts.

The two men are known to be personally close, but this is the first time allegations of a financial link have surfaced....

References to Berlusconi's "financially enriching relationship" originated both from members of his own political party and from the hostile government of Georgia, according to the leaked cables.

The US ambassador in Rome, Ronald Spogli, first reported the claims in a series of dispatches in 2008-09. He said the prime minister had taken "single-handed" control of Italy's dealings with Moscow, with the over-riding aim of pleasing the Russian leader.

Berlusconi acted as a "mouthpiece" for Putin, he reported, supporting him in public when Russia was being criticised...

The Italian energy conglomerate [ENI] is partially owned by the Italian government. It works in close collaboration with state-controlled Gazprom, the energy giant which sells Russian gas and oil abroad...

[U.S. Ambassador to Rome Ronald] Spogli wrote: 'Whenever we raise the issue of Russia and the P with our contacts in PdL, Berlusconi's own party, they have usually pointed us to Valentino Valentini, a member of parliament and somewhat shadowy figure who operates as Berlusconi's key man on Russia, albeit with no staff or even a secretary. Valentini, a Russian-speaker who travels to Russia several times a month, frequently appears at Berlusconi's side when he meets other world leaders. What he does in Moscow during his frequent visits is unclear but he is widely rumoured to be looking after Berlusconi's business interests in Russia.'...

Elsewhere the US describes Valentini as Berlusconi's "unofficial intermediary/bagman".

After the allegations were published, Valentini dismissed them as 'corridor chatter'. He said:

'Leaving aside certain mischievous headlines, you only have to read in their entirety the reports leaked by WikiLeaks to understand what they are: [the] corridor chatter of politics and diplomacy; partial and inaccurate information that has been raised to the level of confidential news...'"---U.K. Guardian (12-2-10)

The U.K. Guardian (12-2-10) is reporting that the stolen State Department cables released by Wikileaks suggest Russia's Prime Minister Putin may be bribing Italy's leader with kickbacks on energy contracts. According to a leaked cable, Berlusconi also "appears increasingly to be the mouthpiece of Putin."

I hope all those American politicians who persecute climate scientists are paying attention: agencies of the U.S. government probably know a lot more about 'mouthpieces" who are being bribed by the Russian petrostate's gangster-operatives than the suspicions expressed in a few State Department cables. These cables are probably the tip of the iceberg. [See the U.K. Guardian links to their main page about the US Embassy Cables and also to the actual cables.]

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