Their glitzy, usually unusual bromance — by which Berlusconi as soon as introduced Putin with present bedsheets emblazoned with a picture of the 2 males shaking palms — regularly raised eyebrows in diplomat circles.
The bedsheets have been apparently Berlusconi’s tongue-in-cheek response to revelations that Putin had as soon as given Berlusconi an ornate double-bed, which was described in one in every of Berlusconi’s many tanged authorized proceedings.
In line with proof, an escort who was paid to take part in Berlusconi’s sexcapades recorded a dialog by which Berlusconi instructed her to attend for him in a mattress, which the lady then described as “Putin’s.”
Some have speculated that Berlusconi, a billionaire, and Putin, a reputed billionaire, engaged in covert enterprise offers. Others pointed to the increasing Russian-Italian commerce relationship, notably in vitality,
Linked by a shared boorish machismo, the 2 leaders have been seen regularly collectively: at excessive preventing competitions in Russia, laughing at worldwide information conferences, and in full gear for snowboarding journeys alongside Putin’s sidekick, former Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
The 2 have been additionally photographed consuming at one in every of Putin’s residences in massive fur hats, and vacationing collectively in Sardinia. “Putin has by no means requested me for a single favor, and I’ve by no means requested a favor of him,” Berlusconi as soon as said.
The friendship, which appeared to be based mostly on a mutual self-interest in addition to real affection, regularly courted scandal.
After Berlusconi resigned from workplace in 2011 amid a number of scandals, together with allegations that he paid for intercourse with an underage intercourse employee (a cost for which he was later acquitted), Putin rallied behind him claiming that his Italian buddy wouldn’t have confronted trial if he have been homosexual.
“Berlusconi is being tried as a result of he lives with ladies,” Putin instructed an viewers at his annual Valdai convention with Russian and worldwide international coverage consultants in 2013. “If he have been gay, nobody would carry a finger towards him.”
In 2015, Ukraine banned Berlusconi from the nation for 3 years after he went with Putin to go to Crimea, which Russia invaded and illegally annexed the 12 months earlier than.
And final fall — months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which turned Putin right into a pariah on the worldwide stage — a recording was leaked to the Italian media on which Berlusconi boasted that he had rekindled ties with Putin.
Berlusconi stated Putin had despatched him 20 bottles of vodka for his birthday and a “very pretty letter,” by which he claimed Putin had known as him “primary amongst his 5 finest pals.”
The incident reportedly precipitated friction with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni who has advocated sending weapons to Kyiv and described Russia’s invasion as an “unacceptable large-scale act of battle by Putin’s Russia.”
In a tribute on Monday, Putin known as Berlusconi a pricey buddy and an excellent politician.
“For me, Silvio was a pricey particular person, a real buddy,” Putin stated in an announcement. “I’ve at all times sincerely admired his knowledge, his potential to make balanced, far-sighted selections even in essentially the most tough state of affairs.”