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Italian journalist has live on-air spat with colleague as he slams him for propagandising for Putin

Chaotic scenes unfolded on Italian television this weekend when a prominent journalist accused a colleague of propaganda on behalf of Vladimir Putin.

Alessandro Sallusti walked out halfway through a live show on Sunday, but not before unleashing a scathing diatribe against fellow journalist Massimo Giletti – who was reporting live from Moscow as a correspondent at the time.

Sallusti said he disagreed with Giletti’s supposedly timid attempt to hold the Kremlin to account, reprimanding him on live television as he stood next to Putin’s lead propaganda and Russia1 TV host Vladimir Solovyov.

Sallusti, a veteran editor of Italy’s centre-right newspaper Libero, criticized Giletti for interviewing Solovyov and Russia’s infamous Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, saying he “witnessed total submission to the worst form of propaganda.” ‘.

He said the Grand Kremlin Palace was “full of shit” and behind some of the worst atrocities of the 20th and 21st centuries, accusing Giletti of not having the courage to tell his hosts of that fact.

Alessandro Sallusti, a veteran editor of Italy's centre-right newspaper Libero, unleashed a scathing diatribe against fellow journalist Massimo Giletti - who as a correspondent reported live from Moscow.  He accused him of propaganda for Vladimir Putin

Alessandro Sallusti, a veteran editor of Italy’s centre-right newspaper Libero, unleashed a scathing diatribe against fellow journalist Massimo Giletti – who as a correspondent reported live from Moscow. He accused him of propaganda for Vladimir Putin

Pictured: Italian journalist Massimo Giletti (center) next to Putin's propaganda-in-chief Vladimir Solovyov (right) on a balcony overlooking Moscow's Red Square

Pictured: Italian journalist Massimo Giletti (center) next to Putin’s propaganda-in-chief Vladimir Solovyov (right) on a balcony overlooking Moscow’s Red Square

“Massimo, when I heard that you were going to Moscow, I was very proud to know you,” Sallusti told Giletti via video link in the Italian TV program Non è l’Arena.

‘Initially I thought you would appeal to Russian viewers instead of Italian viewers, then I understood that this was not the case.

“I imagined that you would speak to Putin or a top official and that you would make us proud of our free press,” Sallusti said.

‘Instead, if’ [was] said more politely by Myrta [Merlino, another colleague]“I am witnessing total servilism against the worst possible form of propaganda.

‘Useful idiots work there too. For example, at the beginning of this program, Cacciari talked about the Kremlin’s prestige,’ the journalist continued, as the camera cut to Giletti and Solovyov, overlooking Moscow’s Red Square.

‘The palace behind you’ [the Kremlin], remind our viewers that the worst crimes against humanity of the 20th and 21st centuries were staged there. That palace is full of shit.

“You should have the courage to tell your hosts that the palace behind you is a palace full of shit,” he raged.

“It upsets me to see a journalist I respect be called “child” and “incompetent” by an idiot [Maria Zakharova] who doesn’t know what she’s talking about because we have freedom and defend it.

‘I won’t be a fig leaf for these two idiots’ [literally: testicles] next to you. So I decide to leave, I refuse my compensation and end my participation in this farce. Thanks,’ he concluded, before ending the video call.

Sallusti said he disagreed with Giletti's supposedly timid attempt to hold the Kremlin to account, and chided him on live television as he stood next to Putin's lead propaganda and Russia1 TV host Vladimir Solovyov (pictured)

Sallusti said he disagreed with Giletti’s supposedly timid attempt to hold the Kremlin to account, and chided him on live television as he stood next to Putin’s lead propaganda and Russia1 TV host Vladimir Solovyov (pictured)

Sallusti also criticized Giletti for interviewing Russia's infamous Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova (pictured), saying he

Sallusti also criticized Giletti for interviewing Russia’s infamous Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova (pictured), saying he “witnessed total submission to the worst form of propaganda.”

According to news weekGiletti reportedly fell ill and also dropped out of the Moscow live show on Italy’s La7 channel after being reprimanded by Sallusti. He later reappeared from an indoor location, Newsweek said.

The news show, which was widely shared on social media, was widely criticized for hosting part of its prime-time program in Moscow, giving allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin ample airtime.

Giletti’s interview with Maria Zakharova in particular was called up after the spokeswoman reiterated the Kremlin’s justification for the invasion of Ukraine ordered by Putin on Feb. 24.

Since the start of its invasion, which it calls a “special military operation,” Russia has repeatedly said it wants to clear Ukraine of “Nazis.”

Kiev and its Western supporters say such claims are fiction and that Ukraine is fighting for its survival against an imperialist land grab.

After the show, Italy on Monday summoned the Russian ambassador to protest criticism from Moscow over Italian media coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Italy’s foreign ministry said in a statement that it “rejected innuendo regarding the alleged involvement of our country’s media in an anti-Russian campaign.”

Alessandro Sallusti is an experienced editor of the Italian centre-right newspaper Libero

Alessandro Sallusti is an experienced editor of the Italian centre-right newspaper Libero

Pictured: Italian news channel's studio can be seen Sunday as Alessandro Sallusti (left) scolded fellow journalist Massimo Giletti (center, in tie) who was reporting from Moscow

Pictured: Italian news channel’s studio can be seen Sunday as Alessandro Sallusti (left) scolded fellow journalist Massimo Giletti (center, in tie) who was reporting from Moscow

It added that it “firmly rejected allegations of amorality” leveled by the Russian Foreign Ministry against certain unnamed Italian officials and journalists.

The Russian embassy in Rome posted a statement on Facebook that Ambassador Sergey Razov had rejected the criticism during his meeting with the secretary-general of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“He pointed out that the propaganda line that dominates the Italian media can hardly be classified as hostile,” the statement said.

“He called for moderation and balance, traditional for Italian foreign policy, in the interest of preserving positive relations and cooperation between the Russian and Italian peoples in the long term.”

Russia’s condemnation of Italian media coverage goes against Italy’s own disapproval of alleged pro-Russian bias by some influential TV news shows.

An Italian parliamentary committee opened an investigation last month into allegations of “disinformation” on television after Russian guests appeared frequently on the country’s news programs during the war in Ukraine.

The Parliamentary Commission for the Security of the Republic (Copasir), which oversees the intelligence community, said it is investigating “foreign interference and disinformation activity” in reporting on the conflict, which is now in its third month.

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