Alexey Bukalov is the director of the Russian press agency ITAR-TASS. For more than ten years he has been the correspondent for TASS with the Holy See as well as writing for the daily newspaper Novoje Vremja. In 2014 the cultural association Amici della Russia honored him with the International Pushkin Award for his book “Bereg dalnij. Iz zarubezhnoj Pushkiniany” (The far shore. Foreign studies on Pushkin), the third on the great Russian writer. And in 2016 Alexey Bukalov was awarded the “Triumph International” in the journalism category, by the RUDN University (People’s Friendship University of Russia).
InvestorVisa: In your opinion, do you believe that Italy, with its culture and lifestyle, represents an attractive country for Russian investors?
Bukalov: Absolutely. Just as many observers and experts in our country are indeed convinced, there are no two other countries in Europe that are so similar as Italy and Russia – for better or for worse – in talent, hospitality but also in the ability to swindle… Admiration for the culture and age-old traditions of our historic bonds is in my countrymen’s blood. This climate can only promote the intentions of Russian investors.
Italy has launched a media campaign to revamp the image of the Bel Paese in the eyes of foreign investors. How do you think Italy is perceived by your fellow countrymen?
As I have previously indicated, the prestige of the Bel Paese is very high in the eyes of Russian citizens and entrepreneurs. If Italy is mentioned in the course of a conversation, Russians immediately think of art, food (starting with pizza or pasta), soccer, the mafia, the Vatican and so on, but never war – just try to mention the word Germany and right away the threat of the Second World War comes to mind. This is also due to the fact that the Italian soldiers on the River Don did not behave like enemy invaders.
A very recent law offers the opportunity for non-EU investors to receive a long-term permit to stay, valid for the entire Schengen area. Do you believe that this measure will represent sufficient encouragement to motivate a Russian to invest or donate in Italy?
Most certainly I believe that this new legislation could encourage the flow of Russians to Italy. But let’s not exaggerate – there are other ways and itineraries at times easier for Russians: Italian bureaucracy is not the most welcoming in Europe. There is also another obstacle to Russian-European rapprochement: the anti-Russia sanctions issued by the EU. And there is also a principle to consider – Russia has always been and will always be an integral part of Europe.
Russia boasts a deep-seated and lengthy tradition in classical dancing, the theater, concerts. Do you believe that this would be interesting for Russian patrons who could donate to Italian foundations?
I do believe that this great Russian tradition, so appreciated in Italy, also belongs to the future. I would like to hope that the trend will also have meaning for the prospects of Italian investments in Russia. It should be a reciprocal process!