‘Your friend Putin’: Italian right-winger Salvini confronted during Poland visit

Interior Matteo Salvini pushes for new election
Matteo Salvini

The mayor of a Polish town bordering Ukraine has publicly called out the leader of Italy’s right-wing League party for his pro-Kremlin views, calling Matteo Salvini a “friend” of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Przemysl mayor Wojciech Bakun challenged Mr Salvini during a news conference at the train station in the town where hundreds of thousands of refugees have arrived since Russia launched its war against Ukraine on February 24.

The mayor pulled a T-shirt from his jacket showing Mr Putin’s face and the words “Army of Russia”.

The T-shirt was similar to one Mr Salvini has worn publicly in the past.

Mr Bakun said he wanted to personally escort Mr Salvini wearing the T-shirt to a refugee centre “to see what your friend Putin has done”.

Mr Salvini interrupted Mr Bakun, saying: “We are helping refugees, children, mums, dads, from Ukraine.” He then walked away.

He has praised Mr Putin in the past as “one of the best statesmen”, but has denied taking money from the Kremlin.

Mr Salvini was heckled by some people who called him a “buffoon”.

The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine as the Russian army shells its cities reached two million on Tuesday, with more than half arriving in Poland.

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