Silvio Berlusconi has reportedly told party members that he sent bottles of wine to the Russian leader after receiving vodka
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has allegedly reconnected with Vladimir Putin, exchanging “sweet” letters and gifts with the Russian president despite the European Union’s ongoing anti-Russian campaign.
“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 is heard saying on an audiotape released by the LaPresse news agency. “I answered him with some bottles of Lambrusco [wine] and an equally sweet letter.”
Berlusconi, who celebrated his 86th birthday on September 29, reportedly made his comments to parliamentarians in his Forza Italia party on Tuesday in Rome. Forze Italia later issued a statement saying that Berlusconi and the party had been consistently “in line with the position of Europe and the United States” on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. There is “no room for ambiguity, and there never has been.”
In the recording made public by LaPresse, Berlusconi said he couldn’t give his true opinion about the Russia-Ukraine conflict. “If it gets in the press, there’ll be a disaster.”
The three-time prime minister, who led Italy for most of the period from 1994 to 2011, was criticized by politicians and media outlets for saying last month that Putin launched Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine to replace President Vladimir Zelensky’s government with “decent people.” However, the backlash didn’t prevent him from winning a Senate seat in last month’s Italian elections, returning to the upper house for the first time since being banned from holding public office in 2013, after being convicted of tax fraud.
Earlier this month, several German lawmakers called for Berlusconi and Forze Italia to be kicked out of the European Parliament if he dared to support Giorgia Meloni’s “extreme right-wing” coalition in Italy. Italian voters chose Meloni as her Brothers of Italy party led right-wing parties to victory in last month’s elections. The ex-PM met with Meloni on Monday as the two leaders negotiated over cabinet posts in Rome’s new government.
Berlusconi has a long history of friendly relations with Putin, including hosting the Russian leader at his holiday villa in Sardinia in 2008. At the time, Berlusconi said his friendship with Putin fostered a better understanding between the two leaders, which was in “the interests of not just of our two countries, but I believe the entire world.”
The Italian media mogul also visited Putin in Crimea in 2015, becoming the most prominent Western politician to visit the peninsula since its residents voted overwhelmingly to join Russia the year before. EU members and the US have refused to recognize Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
https://ift.tt/OHZxFMP 19, 2022 at 04:43AM
from RT – Daily news