The former Olympic gymnast rumoured to be in a relationship with Vladimir Putin has made a rare public appearance at a festival featuring dancers in wartime uniform and the symbol Z.
As Russia continues to attack Ukraine, reports and rumours regarding the private life of Russian President Vladmir Putin have come to light - from a potential cancer diagnosis to doubts about his sanity.
One question that has followed Putin is that of his secret relationship with retired gymnast Alina Kabaeva and their alleged children together.
This is everything you need to know.
Who is Alina Kabaeva?
Alina Kabaeva is a 38 year old Russian politician and retired Olympic rhythmic gymnast.
Born in 1983, Kabaeva started her rhythmic gymnastics career at just three years old - and at 15, she won the European Championships in Portugal. She was, at the time, the youngest member of the Russian squad.
She became the European Champion again in 1999 before going on to win the World Title in Osaka.
Kabaeva is one of the most decorated gymnasts in the field of rhythmic gymnastics, with two Olympic medals, 14 World Championship medals and 21 European Championship medals.
Kabaeva and fellow Russian rhythmic gymnast Irina Chashchina were both convicted of doping in 2001, which resulted in being disqualified from taking part in any competitions for two years.
This meant that from August 2001 to August 2002, they could not compete. Their second year of disqualification allowed them to compete in official tournaments, but only under strict supervision.
She announced her retirement from the sport in 2004, however returned for a few years before properly retiring in 2007.
Following her retirement, Kabaeva was one of six Russian athletes torch bearers who carried the Olympic flame during the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics - something which was highly controversial at the time due to her alleged relationship with Putin.
Kabaeva has been a member of the Public Chamber of Russia since 2005, and since 2008 has been the chairwoman of the Public Council of the National Media Group. Between 2007 and 2014, Kabaeva was a Member of the Russia Parliament, the State Duma, representing the United Russia party.
During her time as a Member of Parliament, Kabaeva voted on a number of controversial laws that were adopted in 2012 and 2013.
This included the Anti-Magnitsky bill, which banned the inter-country adoption of Russian orphans in the US, and the Russian gay propaganda law which made the distribution of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” amongst minors a punishable offence.
Kabaeva has also tried her hand at a number of other ventures, including modelling and a failed singing career.
Are Alina Kabaeva and Vladimir Putin in a relationship?
Rumours regarding their relationship have been circulating for years, with Kabaeva being dubbed as “Russia’s First Mistress” and the “Secret First Lady”. She has gone on record to deny being in a relationship with Putin, however speculation has continued.
In 2008, Moskovsky Korrespondent reported that Putin had plans to divorce his wife and marry Kabaeva - however the claim was denied and the paper was swiftly shut down.
In 2016, after Putin’s divorce from his first wife had been finalised, Kabaeva was seen in public wearing a ring on her ring finger, which she was also seen wearing in 2017 as well. However she repeatedly dodged questions about the ring.
Their relationship has never been confirmed by either party, and the Kremlin has always strongly denied it.
In the past, Putin has condemned those who have tried to pry their way into his personal life. Once, when asked about his possible romance with Kabaeva, he replied: “I’ve always had a negative feeling about people poking their snotty noses and erotic fantasies into other people’s lives.”
Previously, Kabaeva had been engaged to a policeman called David Museliani in 2004, however they separated in 2005.
Do Alina Kabaeva and Vladimir Putin have children?
Kabaeva and Putin are rumoured to have four children together, with a source reportedly telling Page Six that they have “two young boys and twin girls who were born in Switzerland” and that “the kids all have Swiss passports”.
The source added: “While Putin carries out his assault on the Ukraine, attacking innocent citizens and causing a refugee crisis, his family is holed up in a very private and very secure chalet somewhere in Switzerland - for now, at least.”
Another Moscow source told the Sun: “Putin is an intensely private man. He has been hiding his two adult daughters under fake IDs for years.
“Even now, though he talks about them occasionally, he never names them. If Alina gave birth to his children, her hiding away might be one of the strongest hints pointing to this.
“He is obsessive about the security of his family.”
Kabaeva disappeared from the public eye in October 2018 amid rumours of the birth of their twins, however she appeared to make a statement last year to wish luck to the Russian women’s gymnastics team ahead of the Olympics.
The written statement was made via the Russian Gymnastics Federation, and Kabaeva herself was neither seen nor heard.
Has she been seen recently?
Kabaeva has been seen in video clips at the Alina 2022 gymnastics festival. The show will air in full on 8 May on the eve of a military parade for ‘Victory Day’ which is an important date in the Russian calendar marking the end of the second world war.
The event included patriotic songs which celebrate the country’s victory over the Nazis, as well as the letter Z which has been used by the country in its invasion on Ukraine.
Girl performers of different ages were dressed in a wartime uniform at the show.
Some represented Russia, others Belarus. While some dressed to represent Ukrainians.
When did Vladimir Putin divorce his wife?
From 1983 to 2014, Putin was married to his first wife, Lyudmila Aleksandrovna Ocheretnaya.
Ocheretnaya, who is fluent in French, German and Spanish, worked as a flight attendant for the Russian airline Aeroflot prior to her marriage to Putin. The two reportedly met in the early 1980s via a mutual friend, in their hometown of Leningrad, now known as St Petersburg.
Not much is known about Ocheretnaya as she and her two daughters with Putin have remained largely out of the public eye.
Their daughters, named Maria and Katerina, were born in 1984 and 1985, respectively. As adults attended university under fake names to hide their identities.
In the past, Reuters reported that Ocheretnaya did not enjoy her time as Russia’s first lady.
Slava Zaitsev, a Russian designer who dressed Ocheretnaya for a number of different occasions, told the outlet in 2013: “Back then she also used to tell me how she did not like too much to travel, show herself in public.
“She was not ready for this role. Being a President’s wife came down on her unexpectedly.”
On 6 June 2013, it was announced by Putin and Ocheretnaya that they were divorcing in a televised address.
Putin said: “It was a joint decision: we hardly see each other, each of us has our own life.”
Ocheretnaya said: “Our marriage is over due to the fact that we barely see each other.
“Vladimir Vladimirovich is completely submerged in his work. Our children have grown up, each of them is living her own life… And I truly don’t like publicity.”
In April 2014, the Kremlin confirmed that their divorce had been officially finalised.
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