'Your friend Putin': Salvini confronted during border visit

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The Mayor of Przemysl, Wojciech Bakun, left, holds up a t-shirt with the likeness of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the words "The Russian Army" as Italy's League Party leader, Matteo Salvini, right, speaks with journalists outside the train station in Przemysl, Poland, Tuesday, March 8, 2022. Matteo Salvini was confronted Tuesday by the mayor of Przemysl, Wojciech Bakun, during a news conference outside the train station where many of the more than 2 million refugees from war in Ukraine have come in recent days. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

PRZEMYSL – The mayor of a Polish town bordering Ukraine publicly called out the leader of Italy’s right-wing League party for his pro-Kremlin views on Tuesday, derisively calling Matteo Salvini a “friend” of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Przemysl Mayor Wojciech Bakun challenged Salvini during a news conference at the train station in Przemysl, where hundreds of thousands of refugees have arrived since Russia launched its war against Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The mayor pulled a T-shirt from his jacket showing Putin's face and the words: “Army of Russia.” The T-shirt was similar to one that Salvini had worn publicly in the past.

Bakun said he wanted to personally escort Salvini wearing the T-shirt to a refugee center “to see what your friend Putin has done.”

Salvini interrupted Bakun as he spoke, saying: “We are helping refugees, children, moms, dads, from Ukraine." He then walked away.

Salvini has praised Putin in the past as “one of the best statesmen." He has denied taking money from the Kremlin.

Salvini was heckled by some people who called him a “buffoon.”

The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine as the Russian army shells its cities reached 2 million on Tuesday, with more than half arriving in Poland.