'I'll be minister for my friend Putin': Berlusconi offered post by Russian President - paper

Vladimir Putin (L) and Silvio Berlusconi © Alexei Nikolsky / RIA Novosti / Kremlin
The former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi has allegedly been offered a position in the Russian Economy Ministry, and Russian citizenship by President Putin, Italian media reported.

La Stampa newspaper quoted the ex-premier as saying, “My future? Becoming minister for my friend Putin.”

“Think about it: in Italy I am marginalized, while Putin tells me he is ready to give me [Russian] citizenship and get me the lead of the Russian Economy Ministry,” the controversial politician added.

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Berlusconi reportedly said it during a dinner with the ‘Forza Italia’ (‘Forward Italy’) political party.

Many commentators were skeptical about the truthfulness of the claims, with one of them calling the whole story “five minutes of stupidity.”

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There is good reason for the disbelief because there is no such position as “economy minister” in the cabinet of ministers, Russian media outlet Gazeta.ru pointed out.

Berlusconi’s statement comes a month after he and Russian President Putin spent a weekend in the Siberian Altai region at a vacation home.

It wouldn’t be the first time that a famous foreigner has received Russian citizenship: over two years ago, the French actor Gerard Depardieu received a Russian passport.

Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov has laughed the idea off, saying, however, that there is a “long-standing friendship” between the two.

“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,” Peskov said.

Berlusconi’s spokeswoman Deborah Bergamini has said that he was just joking.