Silvio Berlusconi in intensive care in Milan for a heart problem

The former head of the Italian government Silvio Berlusconi, octogenarian in declining health, was hospitalized in intensive care on Wednesday in Milan for heart problems.

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Mr. Berlusconi, 86, is in a cardiac surgery unit at San Raffaele hospital in Milan, a source close to him told AFP. The San Raffaele, which is located in the suburbs of the Lombard capital, is one of the most prestigious health establishments on the peninsula.

According to the media, the state of the political leader, who presented on his arrival “respiratory difficulties”, would be “currently stable”.

Silvio Berlusconi, whose right-wing Forza Italia party belongs to the coalition supporting the government of Giorgia Meloni, has recently increased hospital stays, the last dating back to last week, officially for check-ups.

After his release from the hospital, he posted a message on social media on Friday: “I have already started working again (…), ready and determined to commit myself, as I have always done, to the country that I love”. On Sunday, he also posted on social networks a photo of him in front of a bed of tulips in his sumptuous Lombard villa in Arcore.

In January 2022, he was admitted to San Raffaelle to treat a urinary tract infection. In the previous April, the billionaire had also been hospitalized for more than three weeks for “sequelae of COVID-19” which he had contracted in September 2020.

Silvio Berlusconi also underwent major open-heart surgery in 2016, then an operation to treat an intestinal obstruction in the spring of 2019. In 1997, he had been operated on for a malignant tumor in the prostate.

Putin’s Friend

Despite his old age and his health concerns, the Cavaliere continues to be a central figure in Italian politics, even if his party is today below 10% of voting intentions in the polls. He was again elected senator in the last legislative elections in September, but his attendance in the upper house of Parliament is almost nil.

The philorussian declarations of the media magnate, friend of Vladimir Putin, regularly embarrass Giorgia Meloni, who was his Minister of Youth from 2008 to 2011.

Entering politics in 1994, Mr Berlusconi served as prime minister for a total of nine years and dominated his country’s politics for two decades, despite sex scandals and court cases that tarnished his image.

For millions of Italians it represents a golden age of the transalpine economy. His family’s company, Fininvest, includes television channels (MediaForEurope), newspapers and Mondadori publishing.

Passionate about football, he also chaired AC Milan for 31 years before selling the club in 2017 to Chinese investors.

In August 2013, he was sentenced definitively for the first time: his four-year prison sentence for tax evasion, three of which were canceled by an amnesty, had been confirmed by the Court of Cassation and he had served it on year after in the form of work of general interest, losing in passing his title of Cavaliere.

Father of five children from two marriages and several times a grandfather, this extraordinary character found a new companion in 2020: Marta Fascina, a former model 53 years his junior, and deputy Forza Italia.

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