The Russian ambassador to Italy, Sergey Razov, said on Friday he was suing Italian newspaper La Stampa over an article that had raised the possibility of killing President Vladimir Putin.
"Needless to say that this goes against the rules of journalism and morality," Razov told reporters in front of the prosecutor's office in Rome after he had deposited the suit.
On March 22 La Stampa published an analysis headlined "If killing the tyrant is the only option". The piece said if all other options failed to halt the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the only solution might be for someone to kill the president.
Speaking through a translator, Razov said his suit accused the newspaper of soliciting and condoning a crime.
La Stampa editor Massimo Giannini dismissed the accusation.
"We do not take lessons from an illiberal regime that slaughters humanity and truth," he said in a video posted on the newspaper's website.
Giannini said La Stampa's contested analysis had concluded by saying that killing a tyrant hardly ever resolved problems and could make things even worse.
Putin has called Russia's invasion of Ukraine a "special military operation" to disarm Ukraine and protect it from "Nazis". The West calls that a false pretext for an unprovoked war of aggression.
Razov also criticized on Friday Italy's decision to send weapons to Ukraine to help it fight off the Russians.
"The thing that worries us is that the Italian weapons will be used to kill Russian citizens," Razov said. "There are thousands and thousands of guns out there and it is not clear how and when they will be used".
Italy had strong links with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and these ties improved during Putin's long rule.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi has redressed the balance since taking office in 2021, promoting a vigorous, pro-NATO line.
"I think that crises come and go and this one too will go away. But the national interest always remains. I believe that the key interest of the Russian and Italian peoples is to maintain normal relations," Razov said.