Vladmir Putin, 66, admits he will 'soon' marry his 35-year-old 'longtime girlfriend'
Vladimir Putin divorced his wife of 30 years, with whom he had two daughters, in 2013 and has ever since been linked with Alina Kabaeva who is nearly 30 years his junior
During an annual televised press conference that ran for almost four hours, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday was asked by journalist Alexander Yunashev from the tabloid LifeNews when he is getting married and with whom. In response, the Russian strongman subtly smiled and admitted that he intends to wed again in the future. "As a respectable person, I will have to do it sooner or later," Putin said.
LifeNews is allegedly controlled by Olympic gold medal-winning rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabaeva, 35, who is rumored to be the Russian president's "longtime girlfriend". It is also being alleged that Kabaeva is growing desperate to know when they will tie the knot.
Kabaeva has been linked with the Russian leader for more than a decade, and is now the head of a major Moscow media company. Furthermore, speculation is rife that the elite pair already has a secret family — although such claims have been denied by the Kremlin outright, Daily Mail reports.
While Putin did not give away much at the press conference, many considered the question as either pressure from Kabaeva or the commencement of a PR campaign in Kremlin to reveal the identity of Russia's first lady.
In 2014, Putin announced during a joint appearance with former wife Lyudmila that they had split. However, ever since Kabaeva has been linked with the Russian president, there has been a flurry of social media memes showing their marriage — especially after she appeared several times wearing what appears to be a wedding ring.
Historically, the president is known to become tetchy when asked about his love life, and the subject is almost seen as taboo in Russia. That said, Yunashev boldly took the liberty of prefacing his question saying the state media were banned from raising the subject.
Dmitry Kolezev, another journalist, noted Kabaeva's link to the outlet. "So quite literally this was a question from Alina. Beautifully done," he said. While a Telegram news channel stated: "This question was asked by Life, and this is not a coincidence. We are looking forward to seeing the First Lady in 2019!"
Nonetheless, Yunashev later said that he was able to get Putin to go further than he has ever before. "I think he hinted that soon we will learn something," he said. He further noted that Vladimir Putin blatantly struck down such questions with an abrupt "don't get into my personal life" at all "previous press conferences."
For years, Kabaeva has not been linked to any other suitor despite being seen as one of Russia's most eligible women. It was a tabloid called Moscow Korrespondent owned by Putin's former KGB spy colleague Alexander Lebedev that first revealed their alleged relationship.
After resigning as a pro-Putin MP in the Russian parliament, Kabaeva became the head of the staunchly pro-Kremlin National Media Group in September 2014. According to reports, the group is known to control or hold key stakes in several newspapers and TV channels.
Irina Viner, Kabaeva's former rhythmic gymnastics coach who is also the wife of billionaire former Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov, commented on her student's love life. "When Alina finds the right time, she will say it herself. I'm just happy for her," she said.