Russia’s ambassador to Italy announced on Friday that he was suing La Stampa after claiming the daily was encouraging violence against Russian President Vladimir Putin in an article.
Speaking through a translator, Sergey Razov accused the newspaper of “soliciting and condoning a crime”, Reuters reported, after La Stampa published an article titled “Ukraine-Russia war: If killing Putin is the only way out” on March 22 – allegations the editor strongly denies.
The article, an analysis of whether killing Putin would be morally and practically a good thing, is ambiguous and stops short of calling for the death of the Russian leader. While author Domenico Quirico discusses different scenarios for Putin’s assassination, he also argues that killing a ‘dictator’ bears similarities to ‘practices of terrorism’ and suggests it could ‘trigger worse chaos’ .
But the Russian ambassador criticized the article. “It goes without saying that this is outside the ethics, morals and rules of journalism,” Razov said as he left the prosecutor’s office in Rome.
“I have been working in Italy for eight years…we have made great efforts to build bridges, to strengthen relations in the economy, culture and other areas – but, with regret, now everything has been turned upside down”, he added.
La Stampa’s editor pushed back against Razov’s allegations in a video posted later Friday. Massimo Giannini said his newspaper would not accept lessons from Russia and noted that “we love freedom, we will continue to defend it despite all threats and intimidation, because we know we are on the right side of the story”.
Giannini argued that the article only indicated that the murder of the Russian president was emerging – including among governments – as a possible solution to the current crisis, and said the story’s thrust was “exactly the opposite. from what Razov said, since he concluded killing Putin would make things even worse.
While former Italian leaders, including Silvio Berlusconi, enjoyed warm relations with Putin, current Prime Minister Mario Draghi took a more pro-NATO line after taking office in 2021.