ROME (AP) — Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi was hospitalized Wednesday, his spokesman said. Italian media reported he was in intensive care with respiratory problems.
The 86-year-old three-time premier was admitted to Milan’s San Raffaele hospital, the clinic where he routinely receives care, said spokesman Paolo Emilio Russo. There was no confirmation of reports from the LaPresse news agency, Sky TG24 and Corriere della Sera that he was in the cardiac ICU.
Berlusconi has had a series of health problems in recent years, most significantly recovering from COVID-19 in 2020. He told reporters after being discharged from a 10-day hospital stay then that disease had been “insidious” and was the most dangerous challenge he had ever faced.
He has had a pacemaker for years, underwent heart surgery to replace an aortic valve in 2016 and has overcome prostate cancer.
Berlusconi had been to San Raffaele, where his personal physician works, for a regular checkup for several days just last week. In a March 31 tweet after he returned home, Berlusconi thanked “all those who wanted to send a thought or sign of affection in these days.”
He said he was already back at work “ready and determined to commit myself as I've always done to the country I love.”
Berlusconi, a media mogul-turned politician, made his latest political comeback in September general elections, winning a Senate seat a decade after being banned from holding public office over a tax fraud conviction. That election brought a hard-right-led government to power, with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party a junior member of a government headed by Premier Giorgia Meloni.
Berlusconi remains at the helm of Forza Italia, the center-right party he created when he jumped into politics in the early 1990s, though the day-to-day running of the party has been left to underlings.
Most recently he has made waves with a handful of comments about his old friend Russian President Vladimir Putin, boasting that the two had exchanged birthday greetings and blaming Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the war. Berlusconi's comments have irked the pro-Ukraine Meloni government, though just this week his top Forza Italia ally, Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, insisted that Berlusconi is committed to a peaceful solution to the war.
In January 2022, Berlusconi withdrew his name from consideration to be Italy's president.