Silvio Berlusconi, the former Prime Minister of Italy, has passed away at the age of 86. He died at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan, where he had been receiving treatment for a lung infection related to leukemia.
Berlusconi’s death has left a significant void in Italy, as stated by the country’s defense minister. Known as a flamboyant billionaire media tycoon, he first entered politics in 1994 and went on to lead four governments, making him the longest-serving prime minister in post-war Italy.
In September of the previous year, Berlusconi’s center-right Forza Italia party joined a coalition under the leadership of right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
Reacting to the news, Meloni described him as a “fighter” and one of the most influential figures in Italy’s history. Matteo Salvini, her deputy, expressed his grief and gratitude, acknowledging Berlusconi’s friendship, advice, and generosity.
The defense minister, Guido Crosetto, expressed that an era has come to an end and bid farewell to Silvio through a tweet, emphasizing the immense void left by his passing.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also paid tribute to Berlusconi, referring to him as a “true friend” and praising his wisdom and ability to make balanced decisions.
Berlusconi had been battling a rare form of blood cancer called chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, as revealed by doctors in April. He had experienced ongoing health issues after contracting COVID-19 in 2020, but the exact cause of his death has not been officially confirmed.
Born in Milan in 1936, Berlusconi started his career selling vacuum cleaners before establishing a construction company. He became one of Italy’s wealthiest individuals, building a business empire that included television networks, publishing companies, and advertising agencies.
Additionally, he gained international recognition as the owner of the renowned football club AC Milan, rescuing it from bankruptcy in 1986, before entering politics in the 1990s.
Carlo Ancelotti, a former AC Milan player and manager who currently manages Real Madrid, fondly remembered Berlusconi as a loyal, intelligent, and sincere man. Ancelotti, who achieved Champions League success with AC Milan under Berlusconi’s ownership, regarded the former Prime Minister as a vital part of his journey as both a football player and coach.
Berlusconi’s political career was marked by controversy. While praised by supporters for his business acumen and populist charisma, he faced criticism from opponents for his disregard for the rule of law.
Throughout his tenure, he encountered numerous legal troubles, including charges of bribery, tax fraud, and involvement with an underage prostitute.
Although convicted on multiple occasions, he managed to avoid imprisonment due to his age and the expiration of statutes of limitations.
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