Maria and Katerina, the two daughters of Vladimir Putin sanctioned today by the West, are the Kremlin’s best-kept secret. Their identity has never been officially confirmed, so the Russians themselves know neither what they look like nor what they do for a living.
“I’m proud of them. I never discuss matters related to my family. They are neither engaged in business nor in politics. They simply live their lives and do it worthily,” Putin said in December 2015, on one of the very few occasions when he alluded to his descendants.
The last photo of Putin with his daughters dates back to 2002, during a vacation on the coast, and both have their backs turned. Since then, Maria and Katerina have been protected with special zeal by Russian security services.
It is known that they currently live in Russia and that since 2014, when the country was subject to Western sanctions for the annexation of Crimea and its interference in the Ukrainian Donbas, they have traveled on several occasions to Western countries.
In 2021, they both participated in the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, although as specialists in their professional fields, not as daughters of the head of state. However, their patronymic is Vladimir Vladimirovna, i.e. daughters of Vladimir.
Maria and Katerina: Putin’s daughters
Putin married Lyudmila Shkrebneva in 1983, who worked as a stewardess for a regional airline in the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad.
Their first daughter, Maria, was born on April 28, 1985, in the former Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, after which the couple moved to Dresden, where Putin worked for the KGB.
In fact, their second daughter, Katerina, was born in that city of the German Democratic Republic on August 31, 1986.
They returned to the USSR in 1990, a year before the disintegration of the totalitarian state. After more than five years in the former Tsarist capital, they moved to Moscow in 1996, where Putin worked in the Presidential Administration.
Although it was an open secret that they no longer lived together, Putin and Lyudmila did not announce their separation until June 2013.
In 2017, Putin revealed that he had two grandchildren, one of whom had reportedly just been born, although he did not confirm the parents’ names.
“My daughters are taking their first steps in their careers, but they have already achieved some successes. I consider that each person has the right to his or her own destiny. My daughters were never child stars and never liked to be the center of the spotlight,” the president said.
Maria, the eldest daughter
Maria, 36, uses the surname Vorontsova. She graduated in Biology in St. Petersburg and in Medicine at a Moscow university.
An endocrinologist by profession, she is a polyglot (English, French, German, and Dutch) and has appeared several times on television talking about genetic diseases in children, according to the Western press.
Married to Dutch businessman Jorrit Faassen, who arrived in Russia in 2006 to work for the gas consortium Gazprom. Putin’s eldest daughter lived, according to the press, in the city of Voorschoten, in the south of the Netherlands.
According to media reports, the couple had to leave Dutch soil after the downing in July 2014 in eastern Ukraine of the Malaysian Airlines plane with 298 people on board, mostly Dutch, for which the West accuses pro-Russian separatists.
Maria Vorontsova is currently a shareholder in the company Nomeko (New Medical Company), which is engaged in the construction of medical facilities, including an oncology center in St. Petersburg.
Katerina, the youngest
Katerina, 35, uses the surname Tikhonova. In 2018, the American government identified her as the youngest daughter of the head of the Kremlin.
She graduated from Moscow State University, where she has been working for several years as the director of the National Intellectual Reserve Center, known as Innopraktika.
She was married to businessman Kiril Shamalov, with whom she lived in the French resort of Biarritz, after which they separated in 2018, according to the press.
Tikhonova is engaged in research related to artificial intelligence, in recent years one of her father’s favorite subjects, and also in developing cutting-edge technology projects linked to the leading Moscow university.
She is also known for her love of modern (rock) dance competitions in pairs. She participated in several national, European, and world championships, and a video of her performance is circulating on YouTube.
Alleged extramarital daughters
In 2020, the investigative portal Proekt, declared “undesirable” by Russian authorities the following year, issued an extensive report on the existence of an alleged third daughter of Putin.
According to the investigation, Putin would have maintained a sentimental relationship with Svetlana Krivonogij, who would now be one of the shareholders of the Russia bank, linked to the closest environment to the head of the Kremlin, and would have properties worth more than 100 million dollars.
As a result of this relationship, according to Proekt, a girl was born in 2003, when Putin was already in charge of the Kremlin, a daughter (Elizaveta) who would bear a great resemblance to the president.
Krivonogij’s name was mentioned in the Pandora Papers published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on questionable financial activities of officials and oligarchs close to the Kremlin.