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The U.S. Treasury Department announced that it will impose sanctions against former Olympic gymnast Alina Kabaeva, allegedly Vladimir Putin’s girlfriend, along with other influential people close to the Russian autocrat’s circle, in a further attempt to pressure Moscow to end its invasion of Ukraine.
In the Treasury announcement, Kabaeva is only mentioned as a person who “has a close relationship with Putin.” In the statement, five other individuals were also sanctioned, as well as a Russian financial company.
Who is Vladimir Putin’s girlfriend?
Kabaeva’s career as a rhythmic gymnast earned her two gold medals at the Olympic Games and more than 35 awards at international competitions. Although it is not known when Putin met the Olympic medalist, the first time they were seen together was in 2001, when the Russian president awarded her the Order of Friendship, one of the highest state honors in the Russian Federation.
After her retirement as an athlete, Kabaeva began a political career as a representative in the lower house of the Russian Parliament from 2007 to 2014, where she was a member of the ruling United Russia Party.
The Russian press in 2008 reported that Putin had plans to divorce his wife Lyudmila to marry Kabaeva, and although the Russian president did divorce his wife in 2014, his relationship with the former gymnast has always been denied by the Kremlin.
In 2014, Kabeva moved from parliamentary representative to head of the National Media Group (GNM), a state-owned conglomerate that has significant stakes in all of Russia’s major media outlets.
As head of the Kremlin’s press group, Kabaeva is estimated to have received an income of more than $12 million a year, an astonishing figure for the former gymnast, as the salary of the managers of Russia’s largest gas companies, Rosneft and Gazprom, does not exceed $1 million.
A Swiss press outlet reported that Kabaeva had a child in a clinic near Lake Lugano in 2015, and four years later she had another child in the same clinic. However, Kremlin spokesmen have denied that Putin is the father of the children.
The GNM-controlled media have been responsible for cleaning up the image of Russian troops in Ukraine, as well as victimizing the invading country and demonizing the Ukrainian government and the West to justify the current conflict.
Since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin has sought to minimize Kabaeva’s profile, her information as president of the GNM was deleted from the conglomerate’s website and her public appearances were considerably reduced.