A Russian protester at the mercy of Italian “justice”

Oleg Vorotnikov of the Voina art group has been arrested in Italy on a Russian Interpol warrant and could be extradited to Russia.

I hope he gets the best Italian lawyer specializing in extradition and immigration. A strong case can be made that no member of Voina can expect a fair trial in Russia, as made clear by the sham trial of another performance group, Pussy Riot, in 2013.

Unfortunately, Vorotnikov could be classified an anarchist of sorts, and Italy’s military police, the Carabinieri, as well as its prosecutors and generally prosecutor-friendly judges, seem to wholeheartedly hate anarchists. I don’t know if it is related to the bloody 2001 anti-globalization protests in Genoa or some earlier excesses, but here’s a recent example.

In 2007, the Carabinieri arrested six anarchists active in the environmental movement in Spoleto in Umbria. (Alexander Blok’s poem, A Girl from Spoleto, comes to mind for a split second.) They were accused of forming a subversive (i.e., terrorist) association, held without charge for many months (even Russian laws do not allow that, but precautionary detention is routinely overused in Italy), sentenced to prison terms by a first-instance court and acquitted of some but not all charges by an appellate court, whose ruling has been recently finalized by Italy’s supreme court.

It means that the alleged leader of the “subversive organization”, Michele Fabiani, although acquitted of terrorism, is now in prison serving a term of two years and four months for spraying graffiti and damaging the windshield wipers of a bulldozer.

Interestingly, the Carabinieri sting against the “terrorists” – none of whom owned any arms at all – was not only indecently named “Operation Brushwood” but was led by General Gianpaolo Ganzer, later convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to 14 and five (on appeal) years in prison but never suspended from active duty during his trials and appeals.

I learned about the case accidentally, from this thread on Injustice Anywhere Forum. It turned out that two actors in the Fabiani case had covered themselves in infamy in the Knox-Sollecito Prozess. Manuela Comodi, Fabiani’s prosecutor, played an active role as a co-prosecutor in the Knox-Sollecito trials in 2009-11. Judge Giancarlo Massei, who sentenced Fabiani to 28 months in prison, authored the absurd “motivations report” against Knox and Sollecito in 2010. Nina Burleigh devoted some space to Fabiani in her book on Knox, The Fatal Gift of Beauty.

It gets even better. There are reasons to believe that Rudy Guede, the sole killer of British student Meredith Kercher, was a police informant and broke into the office of Paolo Brocchi in October 2007 (the break-in is a well-documented fact) to steal not just something of value, but specifically files relevant to Michele Fabiani’s defense. Nina Burleigh wrote it off as a conspiracy theory but I wouldn’t be so sure.


  1. And it looks like this same Italian justice system is currently rehabilitating Silvio Berlusconi. Still, we were lucky Berlusconi wasn’t in power when the Ukraine crisis broke out. It’s probably too late in the day to ride to the assistance of his friend Putin now.

    • Berlusconi is still a puzzle to me. A politician of his background – a self-made member of the business elite – would be expected to be pro-Atlantic like prominent members of his coalition, not pro-Putin. A left-leaning politician like President Napolitano or foreign minister Federica Mogherini may be a natural Putin ally but Berlusconi’s logic in embracing Putin must have been sheer opportunism or populism.

      By the way, Edward Lucas has been tweeting against Mogherini’s appointment as EU foreign policy commissioner. One alternative until Renzi’s official endorsement of Mogherini was Emma Bonino, a US- and Israel-friendly libertarian politician who was appointed to her first EU post by Berlusconi in 1995 but later parted ways with him.

      On the legal side, Berlusconi tried to reform the criminal justice system twice, aiming to do the right thing for the wrong reasons. The proposed changes would have sped up trials and provided more protections for the accused but Berlusconi’s motives for the reforms were so transparently self-serving that they did not receive the strong public support they deserved if considered on their merits alone.

      When Berlusconi was sentenced in Milan to seven years for paying for sex with a 17-year-old and for calling the police to have the girl released after she was detained for theft, it looked like vindictive overreaction from the judiciary. We’ll see how it goes, but the other sentence, finalized by the supreme court last year, four years and a ban on public office for two, should be enough to keep him out until he’s past 80.

      • Thanks for that. The last thing I read about Berlusconi was right at the end of Christopher Duggan’s The Force of Destiny: Italy Since 1796. By the time I got round to Silvio I was so exhausted by reading about all the corruption under Andreotti et al that my brain couldn’t take much more in.

        One day I’ll steel myself and read a full-length bio of Signor Bunga Bunga.

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