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Putin, Orban lead global tributes to Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi

Former Italian premier and business tycoon Silvio Berlusconi has died in Milan at the age of 86.

Politicians, sports icons and world leaders are paying tribute to the flamboyant figure who changed Italian politics and was widely known for his financial and sex scandals.

‘A true friend’: Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin called Berlusconi his “dear, wise friend”.

“For me, Silvio was a dear person, a true friend. I have always sincerely admired his wisdom, his ability to make balanced, visionary decisions even in the most difficult situations,” Putin said.

In October, according to a leaked recording, Berlusconi said he had reconnected with Putin, exchanging gifts of wine, vodka and “sweet” letters on his birthday.

Regarding the Ukraine war, Berlusconi suggested that Kiev was responsible for Russia’s February 2022 invasion and advised Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

‘Great Warrior’: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán

Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s popular prime minister, said in a tweet: “The great warrior is gone.”

‘A man who was not afraid’: Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni

Italy’s prime minister bid farewell to Berlusconi in a video message, saying “Berlusconi was above all a warrior.”

“He was a man who was not afraid to defend his beliefs, and it was precisely that courage and determination that made him one of the most influential men in Italian history,” Meloni said.

‘A great Italian’: Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini called Berlusconi “a great man and a great Italian”.

“Today a great Italian bids us farewell. The greatest of all time, in all respects, from all points of view, without equal. But above all I lost a great friend today. I’m devastated and I rarely cry, today is one of those days,” she said in a statement.

‘Many loved him, many hated him’: Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi

Former Italian prime minister and leader of the liberal political party Italia Viva, Matteo Renzi, said in a tweet: “Silvio Berlusconi has made history in this country. Many loved him, many hated him.”

“Everyone today must admit that his impact on political but also economic, sports and television life was unprecedented,” he added.

‘End of an era’: Italy’s defense minister Guido Crosetto

Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto said Berlusconi’s death left a huge void because he was great.

“An era is ending, an era is ending,” he added.

‘An ironic, loyal, intelligent, sincere man’: Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti

Real Madrid Football Club manager Carlo Ancelotti said: “Today’s sadness does not erase the happy moments spent together. Infinite gratitude remains to the President, but above all to an ironic, loyal, intelligent, sincere man, who was fundamental in my adventure first as a football player and then as a coach.”

Ancelotti won the Champions League as coach of AC Milan when the club was owned by Berlusconi.

‘Not to be forgotten’: European Parliament President Roberta Metzola

European Parliament President Roberta Metzola referred to Berlusconi as “the warrior who led the centre-right and who has been the hero of Italian and European politics for generations”.

“Father, entrepreneur, MEP, Prime Minister, Senator. He left his mark and will not be forgotten. Thanks Silvio,” he said in a tweet.

‘Enthusiastic Politician’: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: “Italy has lost a great personality.”

“He was the first Italian Prime Minister I worked with and I will remember him as a striking and passionate politician,” he said in a tweet.

‘A good friend’: Former Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa

A former prime minister of Slovenia, Janez Jansa, offered his condolences to the Italian leader, referring to him as “a good friend of Slovenia”.

‘Unforgettable’: AC Milan

AC Milan, the football club Berlusconi owned from 1986 to 2017, described the 86-year-old as “unforgettable” and said they were “deeply saddened”.

“Tomorrow, we will dream new ambitions, create new challenges and seek new victories. Which will represent the good, the strong and the true within us, those of us who share this adventure of tying our lives to the dream called Milan,” the club said on Twitter.

“Charming and engaging company”: former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Former NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen offered condolences to Berlusconi and said that despite their political differences, on a personal level, “he was always charming and engaging company.”

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