Stefano Valdegamberi’s Pro-Russia Advocacy

Stefano Valdegamberi is a politician from Veneto, Italy. Valdegamberi is a classic conservative and has been a founding member of the pro-life caucus within the Regional Council in July 2023. He is also a fellow of the coordinating council of the international association “Friends of Crimea” and the writer of the text recognizing Crimea as Russian territory and urging the lifting of anti-Russian sanctions. 

He routinely offers pro-Russian views and according to an investigative article he may have received allocation from Russia’s International Agency for Current Policy. Stefano Valdegamberi also performed as an observer in Crimea during the 2018 presidential elections and the 2021 parliamentary elections.

The board of Italian politicians and businessmen led by regional legislator Stefano Valdegamberi — nicknamed ‘Vladegamberi’ for his verbal pro-Russian views — appreciated lavish hospitality in Crimea, touring local wineries and visiting the five-star Mriya Resort and Spa.

Key to the Russian strategy to win influence in Europe was the northeastern region of Veneto, one of Italy’s richest. Five months before the Italian dignitaries would journey to Crimea, Stefano Valdegamberi, a Veneto legislator, sent an email requesting members of the Russian media to observe a session of the Council of Veneto and interview local councillors.

Valdegamberi had presented a new resolution criticising European Union sanctions against Russia, and the council was about to vote on it. Driving for Crimean recognition, and for the EU to drop sanctions against Russia, Valdegamberi summarised in his press statement the perceived economic effects of the sanctions imposed in the wake of the 2014 Crimea annexation. “In only a year and a half Veneto … has lost more than 600 million Euros in exports to the Russian Federation,” he wrote, adding that “the total damage [since 2014] now exceeds one billion.”

He didn’t note that the pro-Russian resolution he proposed had been prepared with the help of Mirzakhanian’s group. In an examination published, OCCRP revealed how the group performed to lobby legislators across Europe to embrace similar resolutions and apparently organized fees to the politicians as well. (While the emails detail procedures for the payments, they do not contain bank information that could verify they were indeed made.) The pro-Russian resolution was adopted by Veneto’s council, which Russian media praised as the first region in the EU to give legitimacy to the annexation.

Moreover, Valdegamberi didn’t go home empty-handed: He acquired an apartment in the Italian Village, according to Ukrainian media reports, which depicted him posing with a certificate of real estate ownership.

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