«The two referendums are very different from the one in Barcelona, because the ones in Lombardy and Veneto are two referendums that apply what is expected by the constitution. They were approved by the courts and the government, and the police will help people to vote in them, instead of kicking them out of voting stations. We don't ask for independence but for more autonomy at a local level to... Еще run schools, hospitals, streets, to help people with disabilities, to finance enterprises, hence to spend less public money and to spend it better, as allowed by the Italian constitution. In Spain there is a conflict, in Italy there is a legal and peaceful path. Lega Nord was born for this, 30 years ago: to defend local communities and territories. 30 years ago there was no European Union, from which I am now connected in Strasbourg. That is a huge problem not only for northern countries but for all European countries: an EU that imposes sanctions against Russia, that damages our agriculture, that takes away 8 billion euros from Italy every year. So our battle right now is for a united Italy in the name of autonomy and federalism, above all to defend it against the aggression of the EU and of multinational companies. They are debilitating us.» “Lega Nord has always voted against these economic sanctions as we think there is no sense in them. A referendum took place in Crimea, and an absolute majority voted to become part of the Russian Federation, therefore I just cannot understand why the EU decided to intervene. It hit not only our economic, but also cultural ties. Russia-Italy relations used to be very close, and they will have to go back to being close. We should get back to that today not only in terms of business, but also in terms of cultural ties and similarity of political positions. This is why one of the priorities of our government would be to hold a vote against extending anti-Russian sanctions that, unfortunately, have been supported by all the centre-left Italian governments over recent years.” Matteo Salvini, leader of the Italian Lega Nord party, outlined his positions regarding upcoming autonomy referendums in northern Italy, in an interview held from the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Sunday. Salvini differentiated upcoming autonomy referendums in the regions of Lombardy and Veneto, to be held on October 22, from the recent referendum on Catalan independence in Spain. He defined the Italian referendums as being compliant with the constitution and approved by the government. The referendums' goal was said not to be independence, but rather to ensure more economic autonomy at a local level. Salvini then called the EU's policies “a huge problem for all European countries” and criticised EU sanctions against Russia. According to Salvini, EU sanctions against Russia have hit “cultural ties” between Russia and Italy, and a priority of a Lega Nord-led Italian government would be to vote against extending anti-Russian sanctions. Salvini is one of the candidates for prime minister in Italy's upcoming general elections, to be held in early 2018.