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Sanctions against Russia are 'absurd' & harm Italian industry – Northern League leader

Sanctions against Russia are 'absurd' & harm Italian industry – Northern League leader
The EU's anti-Russia sanctions are "absurd" and are causing "immeasurable harm" to Italy's economy, the leader of the Northern League party said, calling for an end to the economic restrictions.

Matteo Salvini, who has been the leader of Italy's right-wing Northern League party since 2013, took to social media to slam the sanctions on Monday. "I hope to be in government soon, to be able to give my consent to an invitation from the General Confederation of Italian Industry to the Russia president: Enough of these absurd sanctions that are causing immeasurable harm to Italian economy!" he wrote on Twitter and Facebook.

His post was accompanied by a Libero Quotidiano newspaper interview with Ernesto Ferlengi, president of Confindustria Russia – a non-profit association which aims to represent, assist, and support Italian companies operating in Russia, as well as companies which are just starting to open up to the Russian market. Salvini circled a particular part of the article, signaling that he agrees with Ferlengi's assessment that sanctions against Russia are hurting Italian industry.

It's not the first time that Salvini, who was a big winner in Italy's March 4 election and hopes to become the country's next prime minister, has spoken out against Rome jumping on the bandwagon of anti-Russian sanctions, along with other European states.

Last week, he blasted his country's decision to expel Russian diplomats from the country over the poisoning of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK, saying it would only "aggravate problems." 

Last month, Salvini signed a cooperation agreement with the United Russia party at its headquarters in Moscow. In a separate visit to the Russian capital in 2016, Salvini stressed the importance of strengthening relations between Russia and Italy. 

Salvini's Northern League won 17 percent of the ballots in the March election. The party may form a coalition with the populist Five Star movement, which has also indicated that it would not support further sanctions against Russia, maintaining that the measures are harmful to the Italian economy.