The death of Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister, has elicited varied reactions from allies and critics alike. Berlusconi, a billionaire media tycoon and controversial figure, served as the country's longest-serving postwar leader, holding three terms as prime minister between 1994 and 2011. Despite facing numerous scandals, including sex scandals, allegations of corruption, and a tax fraud conviction, he managed to make a political comeback in 2017. Berlusconi passed away at the age of 86 in Milan's San Raffaele hospital, where he had been receiving treatment for a lung infection related to his chronic myelomonocytic leukemia.
Giorgia Meloni, the current Italian prime minister whose coalition includes Berlusconi's Forza Italia as a junior member, praised him as a fighter and influential figure in Italian history, emphasizing his courage and determination. However, recent disagreements between Meloni and Berlusconi over the war in Ukraine and Berlusconi's friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin had strained their relationship. The Russian embassy in Rome hailed Berlusconi as a great statesman and visionary, while Putin expressed his personal grief and referred to Berlusconi as a dear person and true friend.
Matteo Salvini, the deputy prime minister, regarded Berlusconi as a great friend and a prominent figure in Italy. Defense Minister Guido Crosetto mourned Berlusconi's death, describing it as an enormous loss and the end of an era. Berlusconi's funeral is scheduled for Wednesday in Milan, a city closely associated with him, and Italy will observe a national day of mourning on the same day. Supporters, displaying the flags of Forza Italia and AC Milan, the football club he owned from 1986 to 2017, gathered outside the Milan hospital to pay their respects.