Putin’s birthday may have already passed — he turned 57 on October 7 — but that doesn’t mean he has properly celebrated it yet.
For that, there’s tonight and a big private blow-out on Lake Valdai, just south of St. Petersburg. (Because that’s where Putin grew up and whence he drew his cadre of old KGB strongmen to staff the Kremlin.)
And now, the Financial Times is reporting that the guest list includes none other than Putin’s old pal — and the model on whom observers say Putin based his own leadership style — Silvio Berlusconi. The two plan to discuss “geopolitics and energy” — code for the two controversial gas pipelines being built along the northern and southern coasts of Europe. (Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will also be there to discuss the branch that connects Russia to Germany.)
This is all to be expected — Putin threw a similar party last year — but this is definitely as good an excuse as any to mention the undying amity between two of the most punchy orators in global politics today. For example, not only has Putin often visited Silvio at his Sardinian villa, but Berlusconi is also the only foreign leader who gets to stay in the actual Kremlin when he visits Russia. That’s right. In the actual Kremlin. Now that’s love.