Rome – Italian government officials are warning of possible foreign interference in the March 4 general election, sounding the alarm following the U.S. indictments of Russian trolls and evidence of Russian-sourced fake news on popular Italian platforms.

Premier Paolo Gentiloni on Tuesday released Italy’s annual security report, which aside from highlighting the threat of Islamic extremism, warned about online “influence campaigns” that aim to “condition both the sentiment and political orientation of public opinion, especially at election time.”

The report didn’t mention Russia. But for months, U.S. and Italian analysts have warned that European elections are prime targets for Russian meddling, with the Italian contest particularly ripe because two key opposition parties – the anti-immigrant, nationalist League and the anti-establishment, populist 5-Star Movement – have long cultivated pro-Moscow ties.

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