The politician passed away at Milan’s San Raffaele hospital on Monday, according to reports
Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi died at the age of 86.
He had been admitted to San Raffaele hospital in Milan on Friday. There were no official reports on his health since then, but Corriere della Sera had claimed that his condition was “very serious.”
According to RAI broadcaster, the children of the Forza Italia party leader arrived at the hospital shortly before reports of his death emerged.
Berlusconi, who had been diagnosed with leukemia, was previously hospitalized in April with breathing problems and spent 45 days there, battling a lung infection. Doctors described his cancer as “not acute.”
Berlusconi served as Italy’s prime minister in four governments between 1994 and 1995, 2001 and 2006, and from 2008 to 2011. This made him the country’s longest-serving premier since the dictator Benito Mussolini.
He was a prominent media tycoon, who founded the Mediaset television group, and owned AC Milan football club from 1986 until 2017.
Throughout his political and business career, Berlusconi had been on trial more than 30 times for alleged crimes ranging from abuse of office, defamation and links with the mafia.
Earlier this year, the former PM was acquitted in the so-called “Ruby” trial launched on suspicion of him bribing witnesses in an earlier case that accused him of paying for sex with an underage prostitute, which he was found not guilty of back in 2014.
Berlusconi was barred from holding public office in 2013 after being sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud. The ban was lifted in 2018, and he became a member of the European Parliament (MEP) a year later.
The veteran politician announced his electoral comeback in Italy last year, winning a Senate seat in September following the collapse of Mario Draghi’s government.
Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party claimed 45 seats in the snap election, running as part of a center-right coalition with the Brothers of Italy party of current Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Lega Nord (Northern League), and Us Moderates.
Despite being part of Meloni’s ruling alliance, Berlusconi harshly criticized the PM’s pro-Kiev stance in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. He blamed the outbreak of the fighting on Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and repeatedly called for Moscow and Kiev to agree to a ceasefire, while offering to play the role of a mediator.
“An era is over,” Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto said of Berlusconi’s passing. His death has left a “huge void,” he wrote in a tweet, adding that he “loved” the former prime minister “very much.”
The leader of the Lega Nord party Matteo Salvini said “a great Italian decided to say goodbye to us,” and asked for a minute’s silence to mark his passing.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences following Berlusconi’s death, describing him as “a true patriot” who did a lot for Italy’s social and economic development, while also strengthening the country’s stance in the EU and on the international arena.
“For me, Silvio was a dear person, a true friend. I have always sincerely enjoyed his wisdom,” the president wrote.
In Russia, Berlusconi will be remembered as a consistent proponent of boosting relations between Moscow and Rome, Putin said. “He made a truly invaluable personal contribution to the development of mutually beneficial Russian-Italian ties,” he added.