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Bernie Ecclestone wants Putin to be dictator of Europe

·Finance and news reporter
SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 28: Bernie Ecclestone, Chairman Emeritus of the Formula One Group, looks on during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on June 28, 2019 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone at the Austrian Grand Prix in June. Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Ex-Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has said he would like Russian president Vladimir Putin to run Europe.

In an interview with The Times, the British business magnate said that he would stand in front of Putin if someone had a machine gun and was prepared to shoot him.

He would do so, “because he’s a good guy,” Ecclestone said. “He’s never done anything that isn’t doing good things for people.”

“I would like him running Europe,” he said. “We haven’t got anybody, so it couldn’t be any worse.”

“I am not a supporter of democracy. You need a dictator. As a dictator, you say, ‘This is what I am going to do.’ In a democracy, it gets watered down.”

According to the Sunday Times Rich List, Ecclestone and family are worth £2.5bn. But he is known for saying controversial things.

Long an admirer of Putin and his autocratic tendencies, Ecclestone was previously forced to apologise for saying that Adolf Hitler was a man who “was able to get things done.”

He stood down as the CEO of Formula One in early 2017 after four decades, when US company Liberty Media completed its $8bn (£6.3bn) takeover of the company’s parent group.

Since then, he has served as chairman emeritus of Formula One.

In the interview with the Times, Ecclestone said that Putin’s invasion of Crimea was him wanting “to bring Russia back together again,” and that Putin did not plot the assassination of former Russian intelligence officer Segei Skripal and his daughter.

“He didn’t do that. He would be too busy to be worrying about that sort of thing. Storytellers make these things up,” he said.