“I’m on the Interpol list but I have nothing to hide”
He is one of the best-known Italians in Moscow Lanfranc Cyril, the ‘architect of Putin’, as he is called. But also a fugitive, whom the Prosecutor of Brescia is pursuing for tax evasion and other crimes. And now he remains in Moscow, a Russian citizen by presidential decree, after having also built a one-billion-euro villa in Gelendzik, on the Black Sea, with a spa and helipad for his friend Putin. “I am proud to be an Italian citizen and I am equally proud to be a Russian citizen”, he said in an interview with AdnKronos, responding from the 51st floor of the Imperia, the maxi-skyscraper in Moscow City, of which he owns 4,000 square metres.
Born in Treviso, but Brescian by adoption and now Russian by choice, the 64-year-old entrepreneur with a surveyor qualification, made his fortune abroad, after having founded companies and entered into agreements in the Gulf countries, now resides in the capital of the Federation: ” I acquired my second citizenship in 2014 by presidential decree thanks to twenty years of successful entrepreneurial history in Moscow – he says – I brought Made in Italy here and I brought the Russian oligarchy to Italy – he adds proudly – I introduced them to the sea of Sardinia and the waters of Lake Garda, I let them taste our great wines and at the same time I brought our Italian style into their apartments”.
In Russia for business, Cyril does not hide his esteem for President Vladimir Putin “who I think is above all a Russian who loves Russia”. “I met him in person and I can say that he has great charisma and fervent curiosity, he has always been attracted to our country, whose cuisine and music he particularly appreciates”. The Italian also recalls Putin’s religious turning point: “Today he is very practicing, a devoted believer, but in reality he was baptized as an adult, after knocking on the door of a monastery”. But now for the whole world, Putin is the man who unleashed the war in Europe, with the invasion of Ukraine: “The president’s popularity hasn’t changed at all”, he replies, denying that internal dissent could undermine the Russian Tsar. “It is more probable that a government in the West will fail than here, however next year there will be presidential elections and we will see”, he underlines.
‘peace in Ukraine only with dialogue between Pope Francis and Kirill’
“Western sanctions aimed at bringing Putin to his knees have not worked – explains the businessman -. This is because there are one billion people in the West, but at least seven in the East, and these seven billion have decided not to align” therefore “the Russia has simply turned the business compass east, without firing a shot,” he explains. Cirillo tells of a Moscow where the citizens are hardly aware of the war: “If you didn’t watch television and read the newspapers, perhaps you wouldn’t even realize that there is a conflict. The shops, then, are full of products and 92% of the European companies that existed before the war are still here” despite the economic measures decided by Europe against Putin.
“Here, in Russia, we haven’t understood the frontal attack by the West even on Russian culture. Why can’t we no longer give lessons on Dostoevsky? Why can’t a great conductor conduct at La Scala in Milan? Why a Can’t a Russian athlete participate in international competitions?” says the Italian, recounting the reactions of Muscovites to what happened in this year of war. The sanctions won’t convince Putin to stop, is the reasoning of the architect who is a friend of the Kremlin’s number one. “Rather, it is necessary that Americans, Russians and Chinese sit around a table and find a way to respect each other” something that “in the meantime would be sufficient to stop the war”. “On the other hand, to obtain peace, something else is needed: I am firmly convinced that a dialogue between the Holy Father Francis and the Holy Father Kirill can be a fundamental step in seeking the solution of peace” .
Meanwhile, the trial against him has begun in Brescia. “For the Italian justice I am a fugitive even if I do interviews and talk to the press. I am not hiding, I have nothing to hide”, he assures. “I have a red notice from Interpol: they put me on the same list as Matteo Messina Denaro and frankly it seems a bit excessive…”. Assets worth over 140 million euros were also seized from Cirillo, including villas, jewels and paintings by Picasso, Cezanne, Kandinsky, De Chirico and Fontana. The financiers had taken his yacht, the helicopter and 670 thousand euros in cash that he kept in his villa in the Brescia area. Like what happened to many Russian, pro-Putinian oligarchs, who saw their villas and boats sealed off in half of Europe. For Cirillo, the Cassation annulled the seizures in recent days, on the eve of the ongoing trial in the Lombard capital, but the prosecutors’ charges remain standing: foreign investment, self-laundering and smuggling.