Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences on Monday over the death of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, recalling not only his political importance but also their closeness to the point of being considered a “true friend.”
For Putin, Berlusconi was a “patriot” associated with “the most important events in Italy’s recent history.” In this sense, he praised his role in the economic and social development of his country, as well as Italy’s role in gaining weight on the world stage.
In his telegram of condolence to the Italian president, Putin emphasized, “In Russia, Silvio Berlusconi will be remembered as an advocate (…) of strengthening friendly relations between our two countries,” Sergio Mattarellaand published by the Kremlin.
Putin also called his friend in an interview with the Rossiya-24 channel, in which he called the conservative Italian politician “an extraordinary person in politics,” because he is “extremely honest.” He stressed, according to the TASS agency, that “he had the privilege that politicians do not have deep down, the privilege of saying what he believes.”
Together they traveled to the Crimea
Berlusconi never hid his friendship with Putin, with whom he came to visit Crimea when it was already under Russian rule. Not even after the massive military attack on Ukraine in February 2022, with controversial statements going so far as to justify Putin’s order.
The pro-Russian positions of the former Italian prime minister even forced the current government, of which Forza Italia is a part, to publicly qualify the official position regarding the conflict and make clear its support for Ukraine.
“His death is an irreparable loss and great pain,” the Russian president said in his message. In his view, Berlusconi’s death is “a great loss not only for Italy, but also for world politics.”
Condolences also came from Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, who was also noted in the past year for his alliances with Moscow. According to Urban, “a great struggle has gone,” as he expressed on Twitter along with an image of the salute that contained a message in Italian: “Rest in peace, my friend.”
For her part, French far-right politician Marine Le Pen lamented on Twitter the death of an “atypical figure” who “has undoubtedly characterized Italian political life” in recent decades.