Italian fighter in Ukraine faces probe at home
Italy has opened a criminal investigation into the case of an alleged neo-fascist sympathizer who said he traveled to Ukraine to fight Russia and prevent the nation’s “denazification.”
Kevin Chiappalone, 19, is accused of mercenary activities and has become the first Italian to face prosecution in the country for fighting on the Ukrainian side in the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev.
Genoa’s anti-mafia and anti-terrorism prosecutor, Marco Zocco, has launched an investigation into Chiappalone, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported on Wednesday. The man could face between two and seven years behind bars under a 1995 law that prohibits Italians from participating in an armed conflict on behalf of foreign nations.
The probe was reportedly launched after Chiappalone gave an anonymous interview to the Italian Panorama weekly back in March in which he said he was seeking to prevent Russia from supposedly “reviving the Soviet Union,” and that he would “do what is necessary,” including killing “the enemy.”
I have heard that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wants to denazify Ukraine and so I left to prevent that from happening.
Identified as a “far-right militia member” in the interview, Chiappalone is alleged by ANSA to have connections with the neo-fascist group CasaPound Italia (CPI), known for squatting and demonstrations across Italy.
Following news of the probe, Chiappalone spoke to ANSA and disputed the accusations against him. “I didn’t come here for money, I don’t even have €400 ($413) in my pocket,” he told the ANSA.
UCRAINA | "Non sono qui per soldi". Parla Kevin Chiappalone, lo studente 19enne arruolato con la resistenza ucraina e indagato perché ritenuto un mercenario. "E' un controsenso che l'Italia mandi armi a manetta e io rischio 7 anni perché combatto a fianco degli ucraini". #ANSApic.twitter.com/vwEMQy4q3e— Agenzia ANSA (@Agenzia_Ansa) August 11, 2022
The Italian fighter said he had no prior combat experience or military training before arriving in Ukraine from Poland.
“I have trained for a month-and-a-half and now I’m fighting at the front,” he said on Thursday. Photos purportedly showing Chiappalone have since surfaced on social media, in which the Italian seems to appear in military uniform holding an assault rifle and a machine gun.
🇮🇹 | Kevin Chiappalone es el primer ciudadano que será condenado por actividad mercenaria en Italia.Nunca tuvo un arma en sus manos hasta que llegó a Ucrania a través de Polonia.Se investiga si fue su propia decisión o fue reclutado por los servicios especiales ucranianos. pic.twitter.com/S5s6tGWw1A— JÊëz (@Soy_JEez) August 11, 2022
Chiappalone also denied that he had traveled to Ukraine to prevent its denazification by Russia.“CasaPound has nothing to do with it and I didn’t do it because Putin wanted to denazify Donbass,” he said on Friday.
The Italian also described the criminal investigation against him at home as hypocrisy. The Italian authorities are prosecuting him at a time when Rome itself is sending weapons to Kiev, Chiappalone argued, calling this “contradictory.”