News World

Putin pays tribute to ‘true friend’ Berlusconi

Putin accepts invite to visit Vietnam: Hanoi
Image: Video Screenshot

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday said the death of Silvio Berlusconi, one of his closest friends in the West, was an “irreparable loss” and hailed him as a “true friend.”

“For me Silvio was a cherished person and a true friend,” Putin said in a telegram to the Italian president released by the Kremlin. “His passing is an irreparable loss and a great sorrow.”

The 70-year-old Russian leader said that he admired the Italian’s wisdom and ability to make “far-sighted decisions even in the most difficult situations.”

He praised Berlusconi’s “incredible vitality, optimism and sense of humour.”

In Russia, Putin said, he will be remembered as a “principled” supporter of strengthening ties with Italy.

“A true patriot, Silvio Berlusconi always put the interests of the Fatherland above all else,” Putin added.

Speaking separately in televised remarks, Putin said Berlusconi had done a lot to develop ties between Russia and European countries and NATO.

The Russian leader said the former prime minister stood out because he was “very sincere and open.”

“He said what he thought,” Putin said. “This is a big loss not only for Italy but international politics.”

– Four-poster bed –

Both men for years flaunted their bromance — they stayed in each other’s holiday homes, skied together and were snapped sporting giant fur hats.

Putin gave Berlusconi a four-poster bed, in which the Italian had sex with an escort in 2008, according to the escort’s tell-all book. He in turn gave Putin a duvet cover featuring a life-sized image of the two men.

Berlusconi struggled to break up with the increasingly isolated Kremlin chief even after Russian sent troops to Ukraine in February 2022.

“They were two autocrats who mutually reinforced their image: power, physical prowess, bravado, glitz,” historian and Berlusconi author Antonio Gibelli told AFP.

Last year Berlusconi said Putin was “pushed” by his entourage into starting the offensive, sparking an outcry in Italy.

In the months before the Ukraine assault, Berlusconi continued to promote their close ties, including a “long and friendly” New Year’s Eve phone call.

It was not until April, two months after the start of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, that he publicly criticised the conflict, saying he was “disappointed and saddened” by Putin.

About the author


Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

Daily Newsletter