Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin has paid tribute to his ‘dear, wise friend’ Silvio Berlusconi – while even a former Bunga Bunga girl admitted ‘I will always love him’ – after the former Italian Prime Minister’s death at 86.
The controversial media mogul, famed for his notorious Bunga Bunga sex parties, had been suffering from leukaemia ‘for some time’ and had recently developed a lung infection.
The ex-AC Milan president – who was in a relationship with 33-year-old Forza Italia MP Marta Fascina – was admitted to San Raffaele hospital in the Italian capital on Friday for what aides said were pre-planned tests related to his leukaemia but his spokesman confirmed his death this morning.
Leading tributes from world leaders today, Putin said: ‘For me, Silvio was a dear person, a true friend. I have always sincerely admired his wisdom, his ability to make balanced, far-sighted decisions even in the most difficult situations.’
Meanwhile Hungary’s far-right and pro-Putin Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Twitter that ‘Gone is the great fighter’, along with a photo of him and Berlusconi.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also hailed the ‘huge impact’ Berlusconi had on Italian politics over several decades, adding: ‘Our thoughts are with the Italian people and his family.’
Marysthell Polanco, who was implicated in the lavish parties Berlusconi held, also paid a touching tribute to the Forza Italia leader.
Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin (pictured with Berlusconi at the NATO Russia Summit in 2002) has paid tribute to his ‘dear, wise friend’ Silvio Berlusconi
The controversial media mogul (pictured in 2004), famed for his notorious Bunga Bunga sex parties, had been suffering from leukaemia ‘for some time’ and had recently developed a lung infection. His spokesman confirmed his death this morning.
Marysthell Polanco (pictured), who was implicated in the lavish parties Berlusconi held, also paid a touching tribute to the Forza Italia leader
Dominican born Marysthell once confessed dressing as Barack Obama and a female prosecutor who was relentlessly pursuing Berlusconi.
At the time, she said the parties were more ‘burlesque’ than anything else although she was later said to have been paid to attend along with dozens of other women.
She said: ‘Silvio Berlusconi was a special man. He was delicate, ironic and the respect he had for me will always remain in my heart.
‘We both passed many carefree and difficult moments together, especially during his trials. I always loved him and I always will.’
Putin’s tribute comes nine months on from Berlusconi sparking fury by claiming his long-time friend was ‘pushed’ into invading Ukraine and only wanted to put ‘decent people’ in charge of Kyiv.
Facing widespread condemnation from opponents for appearing to defend the invasion, Berlusconi later released a statement to say that his views had been ‘oversimplified’. His friendship with Putin put him at odds with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, a staunch supporter of Ukraine.
Ms Meloni did, however’ describe Berlusconi as ‘one of the most influential men in Italy’s history’. She added: ‘Berlusconi was above all a fighter. He was a man who was not afraid to defend his convictions.’
On his 86th birthday, while the war raged, Putin sent Berlusconi best wishes and vodka, and the Italian boasted he returned the favour by sending back Italian wine.
Putin’s comments come nine months on from Berlusconi sparking fury by claiming his long-time friend was ‘pushed’ into invading Ukraine and only wanted to put ‘decent people’ in charge of Kyiv. The pair are pictured above in 2003
On his 86th birthday, while the war raged, Putin sent Berlusconi (pictured in 2019) best wishes and vodka, and the Italian boasted he returned the favour by sending back Italian wine
Berlusconi and his 33-year-old partner Marta Fascina, who is a Forza Italia MP, are pictured
Berlusconi’s former Italian football club AC Milan joined the Russian president in paying tribute to the billionaire tycoon who created Italy’s largest media company before transforming the country’s political landscape.
AC Milan, who enjoyed immense success during Berlusconi’s 31-year reign between 1986 and 2017, said the club was ‘deeply saddened’ by the death of their ‘unforgettable’ former president.
Translated into English from Italian, the Italian club posted on social media: ‘Deeply saddened, AC Milan grieves the passing of the unforgettable Silvio Berlusconi and wishes to reach out to the family, associates, and most cherished friends to share our sympathies.
They then quoted their former president:”’Tomorrow, we will dream of new ambitions, create new challenges, and seek new victories. Which will represent the good, the strong, and the true that lies inside us, in all of us who shared this adventure of binding our lives to a dream called Milan”’.
The heartfelt statement finished with: ‘Thank you, Mr. President. Always with us.’
Since 2018, Berlusconi had owned fellow Serie A side Monza, overseeing a promotion to the top division in 2021-22.
The club also tweeted a tribute, posting: ‘Adriano Galliani and all AC Monza mourn the loss of Silvio Berlusconi. A void that can never be filled, forever with us. Thank you for everything President.’
AC Milan paid tribute to their former president Silvio Berlusconi after he was confirmed dead
The Italian enjoyed 31 successful years with the club before moving on in 2017
Berlusconi’ latest side, AC Monza, also paid tribute, saying the Italian ‘will be forever with us’
As did Carlo Ancelotti, who both played and coached at Milan under Berlusconi
Carlo Ancelotti, who played for Milan under Berlusconi before coaching under him too, posted on his Twitter account: ‘Today’s sadness doesn’t erase the happy moments spent together. There remains infinite gratitude to the president, but above all to an ironic, loyal, intelligent, sincere man, fundamental in my adventure as a football player first, and then as a coach. Thank you President.’
Members of the Italian government also mourned his passing, with Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini calling him in a statement ‘a great man and a great Italian’.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Guido Crosetto wrote on Twitter that Berlusconi’s death amounted to the end of an era. ‘I loved him very much. Farewell Silvio,’ Crosetto said.
Adding to the tributes, former Italian PM Matteo Renzi said: ‘Many loved him, many hated him: everyone today must recognise that his impact on political but also economic, sporting and television life was unprecedented.’
Giuseppe Conte, Italian prime minister from 2018 to 2021, added that Berlusconi ‘ignited and polarised the public debate perhaps like no other.’
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described Berlusconi as ‘a great friend’ of the country. He posted: ‘I was deeply saddened by the passing of Silvio Berlusconi, the former Prime Minister of Italy.
‘My heartfelt condolences go out to his family and to the people of Italy. Silvio was a great friend of Israel and stood by us at all times. Rest in peace my friend.’
Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party is part of Ms Meloni’s right-wing coalition, and although he himself did not have a role in government, his death is likely to destabilise Italian politics in the coming months.
His business empire also faces an uncertain future. He never publicly indicated who would take full charge of his MFE company following his death, even though his eldest daughter Marina is expected to play a prominent role.
Berlusconi was prime minister for three spells, running from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006 and 2008 to 2011.
His health markedly deteriorated in recent years, with open-heart surgery in 2016 and numerous hospital admissions since contracting Covid-19 three years ago.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (pictured) hailed the ‘huge impact’ Berlusconi had on Italian politics over several decades
Defence Minister Guido Crosetto (pictured) wrote on Twitter that Berlusconi’s death amounted to the end of an era. ‘I loved him very much. Farewell Silvio,’ Crosetto said
Mourners were seen laying flowers outside Villa San Martino as they paid tribute to Berlusconi
A mourner holds a Forza Italia party flag near flowers layed in tribute outside Villa San Martino
Flowers and a note reading Thank you Silvio are laid in front of Silvio Berlusconi’s Villa San Martino residence
The former PM was discharged from hospital last month after treatment for a lung infection linked to a Chronic Myelomonocytic Leukaemia (CML).
He was admitted to intensive care in April in the cardiac unit of the San Raffaele hospital after suffering from breathing problems.
While there, Berlusconi, the leader of the Right-wing Forza Italia party, was diagnosed with a lung infection and CML – a rare blood cancer characterised by high numbers of white blood cells.
He was discharged on May 19 after 45 days in hospital. Berlusconi had previously overcome prostate cancer, which he described as ‘a nightmare lasting months’.
But it was his battle with Covid in 2020 which he described as the ‘most dangerous challenge’ of his life.
His death bring an end to a colourful yet controversial political career with the former prime minister famed for his notorious Bunga Bunga parties.
The sex parties, which involved prostitutes, caused major outrage across Italy.
His image was further tarnished when lurid details emerged of his sex parties at his villa near Milan with its private disco, during a hugely embarrassing trial involving a 17-year-old nightclub dancer.
Berlusconi was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2013 for paying for sex with Karima El-Mahroug, known as ‘Ruby the Heart Stealer’ – but this was later overturned after the judge said there was reasonable doubt that he knew she was underage.
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