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Silvio Berlusconi claims he received an offer from Putin to become Russia’s economy minister

AP Photo/Luca Bruno
Bang bang, my buddy shot me down.
  • Annalisa Merelli
By Annalisa Merelli

Senior reporter based in New York City

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Things haven’t been great for Silvio Berlusconi in the past couple of years. Kicked out of parliament (albeit still enjoying some influence) due to his criminal convictions, and forced to help out the elderly while serving out his sentence, his repeated attempts at a comeback are on even shakier ground than usual.

Berlusconi’s latest claim is tough to believe: his longtime friend Vladimir Putin has offered him full Russian citizenship and a role as economy minister. According to Italian newspaper La Stampa (link in Italian behind paywall), which first reported the news, Berlusconi announced the news at a dinner with parliamentarians from his party. “In Italy, I have been relegated to the sidelines, but Putin has told me he is willing to give me citizenship, and entrust me with running the economy ministry,” he reportedly declared.

Putin and Berlusconi have long been known to be close. But according to Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov, it wasn’t a serious offer, just a “figurative”  gesture of support between bros: “They are in touch, and we’re talking really friendly relations. And in this case, what is meant is metaphoric support of Berlusconi, and this should be regarded as such, and not as a formal offer to occupy an official post.”

Given all of

Russia’s economic difficulties

, Putin could probably find a better choice if he was looking for outside advice. All four of Berlusconi’s governments have had

disastrous consequences for Italy’s economy

, and are accountable for about

a fourth of Italy’s massive public debt

 (link in Italian).

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