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Vatnik’s professionPolitician
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Silvio Berlusconi

In today’s #vatniksoup, I’ll introduce an Italian businessman, politician and ex-PM, Silvio Berlusconi. He’s best-known for his media empire, for his pompous politics, for his trouble with the law, and especially for his long-time friendship with Vladimir Putin.

Berlusconi has been Prime Minister for a total of nine years, which in Italian politics can be considered an eternity - no other PM has served longer since WW2. He’s also the controlling shareholder of Italy’s largest commercial broadcaster in the country, Mediaset.

According to The Economist (or The Ecommunist, as Silvio calls it), controlled 90% of all national broadcasting in Italy while also being the PM.

Silvio has been at the center of many scandals throughout the years. In Aug, 2013, he was convicted of tax fraud and was...

...sentenced to four years in prison, but was exempted due to his old age and served his sentence by doing community service. He was also banned from holding public office, but refused to leave his leadership position at his political party, Forza Italia.

After he could take part in elections again, he was chosen as a MEP in 2019 and returned to the Italian Senate in 2022.

He’s been involved in several court cases, of which at least six has been altered to “no conviction” because of news laws passed by his own parliament.

These crimes include bribery, embezzlement, perjury, tax evasion and false accounting. In Jun 2013, he was convicted of paying a 17-year-old prostitute called Karima El Mahroug for sex. The prosecution claimed that Silvio had paid over 4, 5 million euros for ...

...El Mahroug’s “services”. Berlusconi appealed, and was acquitted from these charges later next year. In 2019 one of the main witnesses of the case, Imane Fadil, died mysteriously, and even death by radioactive poisoning was suggested (but ruled out later).

He’s also been connected to the Sicilian Mafia, and for example the Mafia boss Giuseppe Guttadauro was heard stating that “Berlusconi, to solve his problems, has to solve ours” in a wiretapped conversation. Several informers and turncoats have suggested that Silvio has...

...connections to the top echelons of the Italian Mafia, but Berlusconi’s never been charged for any of this.

Berlusconi has a long history with Putin. The first scandal where the two were connected to each other was in 2007, when Italy’s state-owned energy company...

...Eni made a deal with state-owned Gazprom to build natural gas pipeline, South Stream, from Russia to Europe. The biggest beneficiary in the deal turned out to be Berlusconi’s friend, Bruno Mentasti-Granelli. The deal was eventually blocked by the Italian Parliament.

After Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, Silvio accused the US and the EU for “a ridiculously and irresponsibly sanctioning approach to the Russian Federation, which cannot but defend Ukrainian citizens of Russian origin that it considers brothers”. He visited Crimea in 2015.

Berlusconi was also the first Western leader to visit Belarusian dictator and potato man Lukashenko in 2009. He clearly had no idea who Lukashenko was, as he concluded the trip by saying: “Good luck to you and your people, whom I know love you”.

After Russia’s full-scale invasion in Feb, 2022, Silvio condemned his old friend, saying that he was deeply disappointed by Putin’s behavior. This didn’t last long, and already in Sep, 2022, he defended Vladimir Putin, saying that he invaded Ukraine only because he...

...wanted to replace the “Kyiv regime” with “decent people”. In Oct, 2022, Italy’s LaPresse news agency published a secretly taped recording where Berlusconi stated that he’s recently “reconnected” with Putin. Putin had sent him 20 bottles of vodka, a clear violation...

...of the ongoing sanctions, and a “really sweet letter” for 86th his birthday. He had also sent Putin some Italian sparkling wine, Lambrusco. In the same tape he also suggested that the “West was already at war with Russia” because it is “giving Ukraine weapons and money”.
He also blamed Ukraine for Russia’s invasion, referring to the 2014 Minsk agreement and saying that “Ukraine throws this treaty to hell a year later and begins attacking the borders of the two republics [referring to puppets states of DPR and LPR]”.

On 12 Feb, 2023, Berlusconi blamed Zelenskyy for the war in Ukraine, saying that “All [Zelenskyy] had to do was to stop attacking the two autonomous republics of the Donbas and this would not have happened”.

He added that “I judge, very, very negatively the behavior of this gentleman”, referring to Zelenskyy. He also criticized Meloni for going to dinner with Zelenskyy, saying that he wouldn’t have done the same.

It seems that at the moment the only person who’s holding down the pro-Kremlin and pro-Putin bloc led by Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi is Giorgia Meloni, whose fiery speech on 23 Mar, 2023, is clear evidence that she still stands for Ukraine.

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