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7 ridiculous moments from Silvio Berlusconi’s candid BBC interview

(BBC Newsnight)
Silvio Berlusconi (BBC Newsnight)

Silvio Berlusconi, the embattled former prime minister of Italy currently performing community service for a fraud conviction, appeared on BBC's "Newsnight" Tuesday. It was quite the interview.

Talking to Berlusconi was Jeremy Paxman, the legendary "Newsnight" host known for his deadpan manner and brusque interviewing style. Paxman had recently announced he would retire from Newsnight, and he appears to want to go out on a high note. While much of the beginning of the interview deals with the European Union, Berlusconi is soon drawn into questions about his personal relationship with other world leaders and the colorful allegations about his private life.

Here are some of the most memorable moments from the interview:

On the allegations he dislikes Angela Merkel (3:10)

Jeremy Paxman: "Do you have a particular problem with Angela Merkel? Is it true you called her an 'un-------- lard-ass'?"

Silvio Berlusconi: "No, I have never had any problems with Angela Merkel. In 20 years of politics, I have never insulted anyone."

(For reference)

On the time he played a prank on Angela Merkel (4:00)

Jeremy Paxman: "And the time where you jumped out from behind a monument and went "coo coo" to Angela Merkel? That was just a joke, was it?"

Silvio Berlusconi: "She enjoyed it."

(See video of this incident here)

On the time Vladimir Putin played a prank on Silvio Berlusconi (4:30)

Silvio Berlusconi: "A few days earlier, I had been to St. Petersberg to visit Putin. Putin hid behind the pillar, and did "coo coo" to me from behind!"

On what is wrong with Italian politics (5:40)

Silvio Berlusconi: "Everything [laughs]."

On Beppe Grillo, the upstart comedian turned anti-establishment Italian politician (6:30)

Silvio Berlusconi: "His behavior reminds me of some of the most bloody and dangerous characters in history. He has many things in common with Robespierre, Stalin, and Pol Pot."

(For more on Grillo, read here)

On the legal challenges he faces (8:30)

Silvio Berlusconi: "2,700 [legal hearings against him] is a record. A world record! And the lies that have been invented about me have given me a very bad reputation abroad. Italians know very well that none of these fact are true."

On "bunga bunga" (9:00)

Silvio Berlusconi: "The 'bunga bunga' accusations were the most amazing things. Ridiculous. They manipulated reality. Luckily I am a strong person, and I am able to take it."

(For more on "bunga bunga," read this)

You can watch the video below. WARNING: Please note it contains one moment of coarse language (at 3:10):

Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University.

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