Putin and Berlusconi
According to WikiLeaks cables, Berlusconi ‘profited from secret deals’ with Putin

From the Guardian:
The Italian media – or at least those elements of it not controlled by Berlusconi – have covered the US embassy cables leaks extensively, focusing on three aspects. First, the allegations of corruption on the South Stream gas pipeline, a Gazprom-Eni joint venture that will bring gas from Russia to Europe. Under scrutiny is the Eni building, part of the infrastructure crossing the Caspian sea, which will cost €15.5 bn (US$21.75 billion).

The second focus relates to the Georgian conflict in 2008, and Berlusconi’s motifs in that crisis — the American diplomats described him as “Putin’s unconditional spokesman in Europe”.

The third relates to the confirmation that decisions on Italy’s foreign policy have clearly been shifted from La Farnesina, the foreign affairs ministry, to Berlusconi’s inner circle and, allegedly, to his business associates. This, again, was hardly top secret. Why would one businessman who has so shamelessly used his political power for his personal interests at home decide to stop at national borders?

The fact that the American diplomats seem to candidly share the suspicions that many Italians have always harboured has sent Berlusconi’s people into an almost comic hysteria. The top comedy award must surely go to Franco Frattini, Italy’s current foreign affairs minister, who loudly proclaimed that the WikiLeaks revelations were the “9/11 of International Diplomacy” and that Julian Assange wants “to destroy the world”.

You can read the rest of the article here.

In the meantime, enjoy the great Joe Cocker – With A Little Help From My Friends:

Photo of Silvio Berlusconi and Vladimir Putin at Putin’s rural lodge in 2003 by Viktor Korotayev/AP