Putin to Berlusconi: You’re a “Real Man”

berlusconi041808.jpgMy only excuse in publishing an excerpt from this FT piece was the brief mention of Putin’s message to Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi following the violent attack he suffered.  No matter what I think of his politics, there’s nothing funny about this kind of violence (though I do admit I also kind of want a Cathedral statuette for Christmas now).  Still, those were some pretty nasty injuries, and it could’ve been much worse.

What’s interesting is that Putin goes straight toward an appraisal of Berlusconi’s manliness following the attack, a reoccurring theme for the Russian PM.  Both Berlusconi and Putin have had some interesting exchanges over the years – once at the “Spaghetti Summit” when a journalist was asking Putin about an alleged, never-proven Tiger Woods-esque affair with a famous gymnast, Berlusconi stepped in and pretended to mow down the inquisitive reporters with a tommy gun (it wouldn’t surprise me if the Russian journalist dove for cover instead of laughing). 

For this pair of prime ministers, machismo seems to be the warmest language of diplomacy– and it wouldn’t surprise me if it were Berlusconi, instead of PrinceAlbert, who gets invited on a Siberian camping trip this summer forsome guy time.

Messages of support for Mr Berlusconi continued to pour in. VladimirPutin, Russia’s prime minister and a close friend, said he hadresponded to the attack as a “real man”.

Even Patrizia D’Addario,a prostitute at the centre of sexual allegations involving MrBerlusconi, expressed her solidarity by putting off the scheduledlaunch in Rome of her book If You Please, Prime Minister.

Meanwhile,souvenir vendors in Milan were reported by Reuters news agency to bedoing a brisk business in the miniature replicas of the spiky gothiccathedral used by the assailant just as Mr Berlusconi was signingautographs after a political rally.