Russia has an embassy in Rome and consulates in Genoa, Milan and Palermo, and Italy has an embassy in Moscow, a consulate in Saint Petersburg, two consulte generals (in Ekaterinburg and Kaliningrad), and two embassy branches in (Samara and Volgograd). Both countries are full members of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
The relationship between Russia and Italy goes back a long way. Unlike many other Western European countries, Italy has traditionally always maintained good relationships with Russia, even during the Soviet era. Even during World War II, when Italy was on Germany's side fighting against Russia, Italian troops were known for treating Russian civilians much better than the Germans did. Already in the 1960s, Italy's FIAT built a car-assembling plant in the Soviet city of Tolyatti (a city named after the Italian Communist Party's secretary Palmiro Togliatti). Finally, for a long time Italy had the largest communist party in the Western world, with over 2 million members.
Russia enjoys close relations with Italy. In 2006, Russia and Italy signed a protocol of cooperation for fighting crime and defending civil liberties. There are close commercial ties between the two countries. Italy is Russia's second most important commercial partner in the EU, after Germany, and its state-owned energy company, ENI, has recently signed a large long-term contract with Gazprom to import Russian gas into Italy.
In modern times, Russia has continued to have a privileged relationship with Italy. The Silvio Berlusconi Governments (2001–2006 and 2008-2011) strengthened Italy's ties with Russia, due to his personal friendship with President Vladimir Putin. Cooperation extends also to the aviation sector, between Italy's Alenia and Russia's Sukhoi, who are jointly developing a new aircraft. Russians have always visited Italy in great numbers. Many Russian students come to Italy each year to study arts and music.
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