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POLITICS

Italy’s ex-president Giorgio Napolitano has emergency heart surgery

Italy's former president Giorgio Napolitano has had to undergo emergency open-heart surgery but is in a stable condition, doctors said on Wednesday.

Italy's ex-president Giorgio Napolitano has emergency heart surgery
Giorgio Napolitano at the presidential palace earlier this month. Photo: Fabio Frustaci/AFP

The 92-year-old had suffered a ruptured aorta, the largest artery in the body.

“The surgery was a success, it was a complex intervention,” said Francesco Musumeci who runs the cardiac surgery unit at the Saint Camillo hospital in Rome.

“The heart has resumed its function, now we need to wait.”

In office between 2006 and 2015, Napolitano was considered a stalwart of stability during a particularly turbulent period in Italy – from the truncated premiership of Romano Prodi to the curtailed mandates of Silvio Berlusconi, Mario Monti and Enrico Letta.

The country also experienced its gravest economic recession since the post-war period.

In 2013, Napolitano agreed to serve an unprecedented second term amid a fierce political deadlock, but resigned two years later because of his advancing age.

READ ALSO: Giorgio Napolitano from WW2 resistance to president


Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Born in Naples on June 29, 1925 into a family of intellectuals, Napolitano took part in the resistance against Nazi and fascist troops during World War II, founding a communist group.

At the end of the war, he joined the Italian Communist Party and was elected to parliament in 1953 after earning a law degree.

Napolitano was one of the most influential leaders of the party's reformist wing, although he notoriously supported the Soviet Union's invasion of Hungary in 1956 to crush a liberal revolution.

With the collapse of the USSR, the Italian Communist Party was officially disbanded in 1991. The current Democratic Party is its main heir.

After turns as lower house speaker, interior minister and leftwing MEP, he became Italy's first ex-communist to be elected president in 2006.

The veteran held the rare quality of being respected by both right and left and an ability to stay above the party political fray.

Earlier this month, he assisted talks with President Sergio Mattarella who seeks to break the current government deadlock after last month's election left a hung parliament

POLITICS

Italy will not recognise Russian referendums, says Draghi

The outgoing Italian PM said that the country will regard any referendum held in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine as ‘illegal’

Italy will not recognise Russian referendums, says Draghi

Italy will not recognise the results of “illegal” annexation referendums organised by Moscow in the Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Thursday.

The Italian leader’s press office said that Draghi had spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to reassure him of Rome’s “continued support” for Kyiv.

READ ALSO: Italy’s Salvini calls for Europe to ‘rethink’ sanctions on Russia

Draghi and Zelensky reportedly discussed the “illegal referendums” currently being held in the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – referendums which, in the words of the Italian PM, “Italy will not recognise”.

On Tuesday, Kremlin-installed authorities in the four above-mentioned Ukrainian regions claimed victory in the votes, saying that preliminary results showed a majority in favour of annexation by Moscow.

The following day, the leaders of Ukraine’s Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions called on President Vladimir Putin to formally annex the territories to Russia.

Only Donetsk – whose Donbas region has been partially controlled by pro-Kremlin separatists since 2014 – had yet to formally ask Putin for annexation.

Italy has supported Ukraine since Russia invaded its territory in February, but Europe is currently watching closely to see whether the country will continue to do so after Sunday’s general elections were won by the Eurosceptic Brothers of Italy party.

READ ALSO: Outcry in Italy after Berlusconi defends Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the far-right coalition that triumphed at the polls, tweeted her “loyal support” for Ukraine on Tuesday.

However, her coalition partners – anti-immigration League leader Matteo Salvini and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi – have long had ties with Moscow.

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