Italy’s Berlusconi flaunts bromance with Putin, says got vodka, ‘sweet letters’ from him

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Italy’s Berlusconi flaunts bromance with Putin, says got vodka, ‘sweet letters’ from him
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Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has revealed that he received 20 bottles of premium Russian vodka and a personal message from Vladimir Putin on his birthday last month.

New Delhi,UPDATED: Oct 19, 2022 10:34 IST

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) with Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (AFP file photo)

By Devika Bhattacharya: Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has reportedly rekindled his friendship with Russian premier Vladimir Putin after a momentary chill in relations.

In a lavish gesture, Putin gifted the 86-year-old Berlusconi 20 bottles of premium Russian vodka and a personal message on his birthday last month, the Italian billionaire has revealed.

“I have got back in touch a bit with Putin, quite a lot, in the sense that for my birthday he sent me 20 bottles of vodka and a very sweet letter,” Berlusconi told lawmakers from his Forza Italia party, according to the audio issued by news agency LaPresse.

Not to be outdone, the Italian media baron said he “answered him [Putin] with some bottles of Lambrusco [wine] and an equally sweet letter. In the audio, he also referred to Putin as “a peaceful and sensible person.”

Amid reports of their renewed friendship, Berlusconi’s party, Forza Italia, has denied that he got back in touch with Putin and reiterated their leader’s anti-war stance.

In a statement, the party, which recently won the general election, said that the position of Berlusconi and the party on the Russia-Ukraine war was “in line with the position of Europe and the United States,” and there was “no room for ambiguity and there never has been.”

Putin and Berlusconi bonded in the early 2000s, soon after each took office. For over two decades, their bromance was well-documented in the media. Their amity endured even after Berlusconi was ousted from power in 2011 after years of sex scandals and allegations of corruption.

Berlusconi had even refrained from publicly condemning the Russian PM after he invaded Ukraine in February 2022. However, a rift formed between the two men when in April, the Italian came out and said that he was “deeply disappointed and saddened” by Putin’s behaviour over the war in Ukraine , as reported by The Moscow Times.

But in an abrupt turnaround, Berlusconi stated last month that Putin had been pushed into the war and wanted to put “decent people” in charge of Kyiv. The remarks came days ahead of general elections in Italy, and had drawn fierce criticism. That, however, did not prevent Berlusconi’s party from sweeping the polls.

(With inputs from Reuters)



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