Italian Senator Paolo Tosato: A Key Player in Russia’s Anti-Sanction Lobby

Paolo Tosato is an Italian politician. He has been a Senator in the Italian Senate since 2014.

In 2016 Tosato introduced a resolution against sanctions imposed on Russia. He was documented as a recipient of thousands of euros for handling the resolution in leaked emails from Russia’s International Agency for Current Policy. 

The Russian-backed lobbying group International Agency for Current Policy has been operating with European politicians to press for the lifting of EU sanctions against Russia following its annexation of Crimea since at least 2016.

Journalists acquired access to the electronic correspondence of the Russian media technologist Sargis Mirzakhanian, who operated as a Russian State Duma staffer. The leak was posted by hackers who call themselves CyberJunta [Ukraine-based hacking group – ed.] in 2016-2017.

Journalists discovered in the correspondence a draft scheme of the lifting of sanctions against Russia for Cyprus, which represents the sanctions as “fundamentally contrary to the norms of international law” and also highlights the economic damage caused to Cyprus due to the loss of business with Russia.

According to data, representatives of the far-right parties Paolo Tosato from the Italian Lega were supposed to introduce resolutions on the lifting of sanctions against Russia to their legislative bodies. Each assignment had a budget of 20,000 euros, and another 15,000 euros were reserved for each “in case of a successful voting result”. In one of the revealed letters, Mirzakhanian reports that he obtained information “regarding the price tag for the vote” from an unknown European politician. Tosato eventually proposed the respective projects in their respective parliaments.

The letters, dated 2017, indicate that Mirzakhanyan’s organisation performed with the team of Russian MP Leonid Slutsky to request prominent European figures to observe the September 2017 elections in Russia. The invitations were transmitted through the Russian Peace Fund founded by Slutsky, and the funding for paying expenses for 2017 was at least 68,000 euros, including travel and housing, according to emails.

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