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    'Tragic Reality': Italian Family Firms Driven to Ruin by Anti-Russian Sanctions

    © AFP 2018 / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE
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    An ever-increasing number of Italian entrepreneurs go bankrupt as the government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi continues to extend anti-Russian sanctions.

    The past few months have seen more Italian entrepreneurs go bankrupt because of the prolongation of the anti-Russian sanctions endorsed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's government.

    Renzi has repeatedly underscored the importance of the 'Made it Italy' project, which he says is adding to the country's political image.

    It seems, however, that he does not deem it necessary to think about the actual fate of everyday entrepreneurs who have been finding it difficult to cope with exorbitant taxes, and who are currently being forced out of business due to the anti-Russian sanctions.

    In an interview with Sputnik Italia, young Italian entrepreneur Diego Marchiori, who had to close his family business finishing elite Ecolux furniture, specifically pointed to the implications of anti-Russian sanctions.

    Notably, he had earlier posted an appeal to the Italian government titled "My company closes: thanks, Renzi!" on the website lofficina.org, which has already been viewed by more than 1.5 million Internet users.

    "Our company, like others, immediately felt the effect of the anti-Russian sanctions because the ruble depreciated and the number of orders fell. The sanctions led to a sharp decline in profits, and in October 2016 I, along with my father, decided to close the company due to a lack of orders," Marchiori said.

    He added that ahead of their company's closure, he had to live on unemployment benefits and that their company cooperated more with customers from Eastern Europe than the United States.

    "The Italian government imposed the anti-Russian sanctions without offering small business compensation, despite the fact that businessmen suffered heavy losses," he said.

    According to Marchiori, he and his father tried their best to prevent the closure of their firm but finally surrendered after they were unable to find financing. Marchiori recalled that "there is a constant drop in production and a rise in unemployment" in Italy, which is why he sees "no prospects."

    He said that he understands those entrepreneurs who are currently contemplating suicide and that the past few years have seen 710 suicides in Italy in connection with the economic crisis, something that Italian government prefers to turn a blind eye to.

    "Closing a family firm forever is like seeing death of a close relative," Marchiori said.

    He also said that it is pointless to turn to Prime Minister Renzi because he does not know "what else I could say to him."

    "I'm doing my best to make MPs understand that the anti-Russian sanctions are a tragic reality for Italy, which will lead to unemployment and the destruction of small- and medium-sized businesses," he pointed out.

    "I would rather appeal to [Russian President] Putin. I would tell him that we have nothing against Russian and Ukrainian people, and that we just want to live and work. And Europe for some reason creates enemies for us, following the logic we cannot understand," he concluded.

    The European Union's main economic sanctions against Moscow are in place until January 31, 2017, and sanctions against some Russian citizens and legal entities are valid until March 15 of the same year.

    Last month, Alexei Pushkov, a member of the upper house of Russia's legislature, said that the European Union may start gradually rescinding the sanctions against Russia in the spring of 2017, if the Syrian crisis does not escalate further.

    He added that the fact that the latest EU summit hadn't resulted in a new round of restrictions on Moscow over the Syrian crisis demonstrated that the bloc lacks unity regarding the issue.

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    Western Sanctions Against Russia (737)

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