The White Home introduced on Wednesday that it was putting extra sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, together with ones on the two grownup daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The information led to calls for sanctions to even be positioned on Alina Kabaeva, a former gymnast, who’s rumored to be Putin’s mistress.
Putin, 69, has beforehand denied having a romantic relationship with Kabaeva and has lengthy remained guarded in issues relating to his private life. When he introduced his divorce from his then-wife Lyudmila in 2013 after 30 years of marriage, it was finished so throughout an informal interview with a tv reporter, following the couple’s taking in a ballet efficiency on the Grand Kremlin Palace.
Kabaeva, 38, has likewise by no means confirmed a relationship with the Russian chief, and the Kremlin allegedly saved experiences linking Putin and Kabaeva from surfacing the press. A Russian newspaper, the Moskovsky Korrespondent, was shut down in 2008, per week after reporting Putin was leaving Lyudmila for the gymnast. (The pinnacle of the corporate that printed the paper mentioned the choice to shut was not political, however a deputy editor insinuated in any other case.)
Georgy Alburov, who works for the jailed Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny, has been amongst those that have led the cost for sanctions towards Kabaeva. He started a Twitter thread on Tuesday that carried into Wednesday detailing why he feels she needs to be punished.
“Alina Kabaeva should be sanctioned immediately,” Alburov wrote. “She is the beneficiary of Putin’s corruption—her relatives get apartments and houses bought with money stolen from Russians. She is a member of Putin’s inner circle, a member of his family who takes advantage of his position.”
Whereas any alleged relationship with Putin stays shrouded in secrecy, many particulars Kabaeva’s public life have been extensively reported. For one, she is among the many most honored rhythmic gymnasts in Russia’s historical past. Earlier than retiring, she received two Olympic medals, together with the gold for Particular person All-Round for Rhythmic Gymnastics on the 2004 Summer season Olympics in Athens, Greece. She additionally acquired 14 World Championship medals and 21 European Championship medals.
Following the top of her aggressive profession in gymnastics, Kabaeva moved into politics, serving a number of years as a member of Putin’s United Russia Celebration within the state Duma, Russia’s decrease home of Parliament. Whereas serving in authorities, she additionally posed for the quilt of Vogue Russia in 2011.
In 2014, she resigned from the Duma and took the place of chair on the board of administrators on the Nationwide Media Group, a big media conglomerate. There, in line with The Insider, an unbiased Russian media outlet which cited leaked tax information, she collected an annual wage of round $10 million.
On Wednesday, Alburov claimed Kabaeva was fired from the Nationwide Media Group, citing her profile being faraway from the corporate’s web site as proof. Elsewhere on Twitter, Alburov detailed how Kabaeva’s household allegedly benefited from her purported relationship with Putin. He claimed her mom was given a luxurious condominium by Gazprom, a Russian majority state-owned company that has enterprise pursuits in every thing from the power sector to the media.
Previous experiences in Western media, citing unnamed sources, claimed that Kabaeva shares two younger sons with Putin, in addition to twin women born in 2015. It has additionally been alleged she and their kids are presently residing in Switzerland, although the declare couldn’t be independently verified by Newsweek.
Newsweek reached out to the Russian International Ministry for remark however didn’t obtain a response in time for publication.