Vladimir Putin‘s rumoured lover has reappeared with a ‘new look’ in Moscow following rumours she was hiding in a private chalet in Switzerland or a Siberian nuclear bunker.
Olympic gold-medallist Alina Kabaeva, 38, resurfaced at a junior rhythmic gymnastics rehearsal in Moscow’s VTB Arena this week ahead of the Alina Festival, a charity event scheduled for Saturday.
Kabaeva is widely believed to be the Russian strongman’s mistress and mother to four of Putin’s children whom he has never officially recognised.
‘Something has really changed in Kabaeva’s face… the legendary athlete was noticeably prettier,’ wrote the Russian Cosmopolitan.
Olympic gold-medallist Alina Kabaeva, 38, (right) resurfaced at a junior rhythmic gymnastics rehearsal in Moscow’s VTB Arena this week ahead of the Alina Festival, a charity event scheduled for Saturday
Pictures of Kabaeva (centre left) at the event in Moscow sparked speculation that the former gymnast had used the same cosmetic surgeon as Putin amid claims of botox and fillers
Kabaeva is widely believed to be the Russian strongman’s mistress (pictured together at an event in the Kremlin) and mother to four of Putin’s children whom he has never officially recognised
Avoiding linking her to Putin so as not to be censored by the Russian state, the magazine said: ‘Alina Kabaeva is one of the most mysterious and secretive women in our country.
‘The gymnast almost never appears in public, does not [appear in] social networks, and it is not possible to accidentally see her on the street or in shopping centres.’
Telegram channel Tol’ko Nikomu – also choosing its words carefully to avoid the Russian censor – hinted that she and Putin share the same plastic surgeon.
‘A new rare appearance of Alina Kabaeva. This time she is dressed casually – and is again seen with a wedding ring.
‘And yes, the handwriting of the family beautician is quite notable.’
A TV version of Kabaeva’s festival will be broadcast on the eve of Russia’s 9 May Victory Day commemoration marking the end of the Second World War.
Alina Kabaeva pictured at the rehearsal of her sports festival Alina 2022 in VTB Arena, Moscow
Kabaeva pictured with junior gymnasts at the rehearsal of her sports festival Alina 2022 in VTB Arena, Moscow.
A pro-Russian troop stands in front of the destroyed administration building of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol on Thursday where hundreds of Ukrainians are trapped
This is seen as the day when Putin will seek to declare some kind of victory in Ukraine, possibly claiming he has seized the entire Donbas for Russia.
The West has so far not sanctioned Kabaeva, who as well as being Putin’s rumoured secret partner is also chairman of the board of directors at National Media Group – a major Kremlin-obedient TV and newspaper behemoth – with a salary of almost £8 million a year.
Kabaeva and her supposedly secret young family with Putin is believed to have been sent to a private chalet in Switzerland or one of several high-grade bunkers in the Urals, Arctic or Siberia.
A petition, launched by citizens in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine two weeks ago, has called for Swiss authorities to kick Kabaeva out of Switzerland and deport her back to Russia.
The appeal, which describes Kabaeva as the ‘favourite wife of the delusional dictator and war criminal Putin’, has since reached over 73,500 signatures.
‘It’s time you reunite Eva Braun with her Führer,’ the strongly-worded petition said.
‘Despite the current war, Switzerland continues to host an accomplice of Putin’s regime.’
Putin and Kabaeva have been pictured together on several occasions, and investigations by the Anti-Corruption Foundation, set up by jailed Putin opponent Alexei Navalny, revealed several Russian oligarchs have inexplicably bestowed gifts of property, money and other assets upon Kabaeva’s family.
Navalny has demanded from his prison cell that Kavaeva faces sanctions.
Navalny posted from jail: ‘I want to remind you that the National Media Group, which owns the lion’s share of this apparatus of lies, undoubtedly belongs to Putin personally, and as such is even formally headed by Putin’s mistress Alina Kabaeva.’
He called for her as a Putin propagandist to be treated as a ‘war criminal’.
A petition, launched by citizens in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine two weeks ago, has called for Swiss authorities to kick Kabaeva out of Switzerland and deport her back to Russia
The former gymnast is seldom seen in public, but she was caught on video dancing at the ‘Divine Grace’ rhythmic gymnastics tournament in Moscow in December last year, mere weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine. It was her last public appearance before this week.
Rumours first linked her romantically to Putin as long ago as 2008 when she was a pro-Kremlin MP.
The newspaper printing the story was rapidly closed down.
Putin – who in 2013 announced his divorce from wife Lyudmila, a former Aeroflot stewardess – has previously said: ‘I have a private life in which I do not permit interference. It must be respected.’
He deplored ‘those who with their snotty noses and erotic fantasies prowl into others’ lives’.
Kabaeva is on record as saying she had met a man who ‘I love very much’, gushing: ‘Sometimes you feel so happy that you even feel scared.’
In 2001 Kabaeva was temporarily banned from competing in rhythmic gymnastics after failing a doping test.
A year earlier she had won gold at the 2000 summer Olympics.
Alina Kabaeva shakes hands with Vladimir Putin during a meeting with other gymnasts in the Kremlin
Once regarded as Russia’s most eligible woman, her only other suitor has been a married Georgian policeman, according to media reports.
This relationship petered out in 2005 amid complaints of tabloid intrusion into her life.
She once posed almost nude for Maxim and was described as ‘full of sex’ by a photographer.
There have been many reports of her wearing a wedding ring, but no records of a marriage.
She is reported to have a fleet of Maybach limousines at her disposal, and was seen surrounded by a squad of machine-gun toting security guards on visits to a Moscow cafe, likely indicating she qualifies for state-level security.
Many Russians saw her as the reason for the breakup of Putin’s marriage to ex-first lady Lyudmila, 63, mother of his two adult daughters.
The dictator of neighbouring Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko hinted that Putin’s divorce decision came about because Kabaeva ‘put pressure on the president’.
From 2018 she disappeared from the public eye for almost three years, amid suspicions she had given birth to twins at a Moscow hospital .
Tabloid Express Gazeta recounted in May last year – when she was still out of sight – that she had ‘literally vanished.
‘After the giving-birth-to-twins reports nothing was heard about Kabaeva, as if she had disappeared.
‘Alina is not giving interviews, nor attending social events, nor participating in any TV programmes.
‘One can only guess what is happening in her private life.’
In her only statement linked to the war, Kabaeva slammed the refusal to allow the Russian team to compete at the Beijing Paralympics.
‘There has never been a more shameful page in the history of world sports,’ she said.
‘They did not worry and did not remove from the competition any country that participated in the destruction of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.
‘But sports officials were very angry when Russia decided to protect the Donbas and Luhansk from the Nazis.’
She complained that Olympic officials ‘tried so hard to humiliate the Russians, banned our symbols, flag and anthem’.
But still Russians succeeded ‘due to the talent of our athletes.
‘Russia was, is and will be a great sports power – and you can’t do anything about it.’
NMG is seen as under the sway of Yury Kovalchuk, 70, a sanctioned oligarch very close to Putin.
The group owns shares in a range of major Russian outlets including REN TV, Channel 1, STS TV, 5th Channel, Izvestia and Sport Express, which are also subsidised by the state.