VLADIMIR Putin’s ‘lover’ has spoken publicly for the first time in two years after vanishing amid rumours she’d given birth to his ‘twins’.
Olympic gold medallist Alina Kabaeva, 38, was the gymnast dubbed “Russia’s most flexible woman” who posed nude for a men’s magazine.
kremlin.ruShe has been dubbed the Kremlin’s First Mistress[/caption]
Nevskie NovostiAlina Kabaeva, centre (red dress) was born in 1983 in Uzbekistan, then part of the Soviet Union, and grew up in a sporting family[/caption]
Alina Kabaeva, posing nude for a men’s magazine in 2004, vanished after being linked to Putin for years
The famous rhythmic gymnast has not been seen since unconfirmed rumours swirled that she had given birth to twin boys in a Moscow hospital.
The athlete, who now heads a major media holding in Moscow, this week told Russian gymnasts they were “ready and set to win for your country” at the Olympics.
Her statement via the Russian Gymnastics Federation came a few days after fans complained they did not know how to contact the vanished Kabaeva on her birthday.
Rumours first linked her romantically to Putin in 2008 when she as a pro-Kremlin MP.
Her last known public appearance was in October 2018 when she defended her doctorate at a university in St Petersburg.
In May 2019, reports emerged that Kabaeva had given birth to twins, but a source close to her said: “We do not comment on the rumours.”
AFPKabaeva has been dubbed ‘Russia’s most flexible woman’[/caption]
Getty – ContributorThere have been strong denials of rumours that she has a family with the divorced president[/caption]
According to some reports, the babies are her fourth and fifth by Putin
Getty – ContributorThe Olympic gold medallist is thought to have given birth to boys[/caption]
Major newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets carried the story on its website at the time – only to suddenly delete it and wipe all mentions of the claims, including from its internet cache.
Another unconfirmed report said the birth had been by Caesarean.
Newspapers and TV stations in her own National Media Group – from which she is believed to rake in almost £8 million a year – did not mention the twins.
Tabloid Express Gazeta recounted this week in a rare story about her, writing that she had “literally vanished”.
It added: “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.”
The report was careful to not link her to Putin.
Getty Images – GettyAlina Kabaeva of Russia[/caption]
AFP – GettyThe former gymnast had ‘vanished’ amid unconfirmed rumours she had twins with Vladimir Putin[/caption]
The Kremlin has previously denied a relationship between Putin and the Olympian.
While Kabaeva was neither pictured nor filmed, her message to Russia’s women gymnastics team said: “I am very glad that we have all returned to the life we used to have, with training, competitions, tournaments and the Olympic Games.
“I know that every one of you has worked and trained hard, and that now you are ready and set to win for your country, for those who support you.
“At this long-awaited and exciting moment I want you to know that you are loved, supported, that people believe in you.”
She also vowed: “I will be praying for you, and will be watching the competitions.”
Getty – ContributorAlina, a former MP in President Putin’s United Russia party, once posed semi-nude in a magazine[/caption]
Getty – ContributorTalk of her romance with divorced Putin was first hinted at in 2008[/caption]
Kabaeva quoted a saying from famous Russian tsarist general Alexander Suvorov – a hero of Putin: “Pray to God as this is where victory comes from. God is our general, God leads us.”
She stressed: “He didn’t lose a single battle.”
Putin has previously said: “I have a private life in which I do not permit interference. It must be respected.”
He has 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.”
Once regarded as Russia’s most eligible woman, the only other suitor she has been linked to by the media was a married Georgian cop.
This relationship petered out in 2005, however, amid complaints of tabloid intrusion into the sportswoman’s life.
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Kabaeva was stripped of six of her world championship medals for doping, and made headlines after a nude shoot for Maxim while draped in fur and little else.
In January 2021 the Sun Online reported that Putin has a secret slush fund to spend millions on his mistresses and love children – according to his poisoned, imprisoned political enemy Alexei Navalny.
She is earning millions a year as a pro-Kremlin media boss, according to reports of leaked tax records.