FOR years Alina Kabaeva has been romantically linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But who is Putin’s rumoured girlfriend? Here’s everything you need to know.
Who is Vladimir Putin’s rumoured girlfriend Alina Kabaeva?
Alina Kabaeva, 39, is a Russian politician, media manager, and retired rhythmic gymnast.
Born on May 12, 1983, in Uzbekistan, then part of the Soviet Union, Kabaeva grew up in a sporting family.
Her father Marat Kabayev was a professional football player.
At the age of three, Kabaeva followed in her father’s footsteps to begin her own sports career – becoming a rising star in rhythmic gymnastics.
In her early teens, Kabaeva moved to Moscow, where her mother took her to the Russian head coach, Irina Viner.
She went on to win Gold at the 2004 Athens Games and Bronze at the 2000 in Sydney.
Kabaeva is among the most successful gymnasts in history, with 2 Olympic medals, 14 World Championship medals, and 21 European Championship medals.
She revolutionized the sport as one of the few gymnasts to have performed new skills and elements, including the back split pivot with hand help, the ring position with a slow full turn, and the backscale pivot that she first performed.
Upon announcing her retirement from gymnastics, Kabaeva began a career in politics.
She was a Member of the Russian Parliament between 2007 and 2014, representing the United Russia party.
During her time in parliament, she voted for a number of controversial laws, including the Russian gay propaganda law, making the distribution of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” among minors a punishable offence.
In September 2014, Kabaeva accepted a position as a chair of the National Media Group – the largest Russian media conglomerate.
It is unclear if she still holds the post.
In 2022, the former gymnast turned politician was hit with sanctions by the US and UK.
Sanctions imposed are designed to punish those closest to Mr Putin – the oligarchs, politicians and other officials said to have benefited from their proximity to the President.
The UK also sanctioned Lyudmila Ocheretnaya, Putin’s ex wife who he divorced in 2013.
How long have Vladimir Putin and Alina Kabaeva been dating?
Rumours of a reported relationship between Putin and Kabaeva date back more than a decade.
Kabaeva was first linked to the Russian President in 2008, when it was reported by a Moscow newspaper run by media tycoon and former KGB spy Alexander Lebedev.
In the following years, the status of Kabaeva and Putin’s relationship became a topic of speculation.
Kabaeva – dubbed “Russia’s First Mistress” – has gone on the record to deny she is the Russian president’s partner.
Unnamed officials who have attended Putin’s private parties say they have never seen the two together but are in no doubt they do have a relationship, claiming that only top-ranking officers in Putin’s security detail are aware of their arrangement.
In 2016, Kabaeva appeared in public wearing a ring on her ring finger, which she seemed to attempt to hide from the cameras.
She was wearing the ring again during a rare TV interview, where she failed to shed any new light on her alleged relationship with the Kremlin leader, whose name wasn’t mentioned.
In February 2017, Kabaeva made another public appearance, apparently showing off the ring at a gymnastics tournament in Moscow.
Months later, she teased Russians yet again by showing off what appeared to be a wedding ring on an outing in Italy.
As of February 2023, Putin is allegedly living with Kabaeva and their family in a luxurious mansion near Moscow.
The Russian leader is believed to have bought her a property empire valued at £100million using a slush fund in Cyprus, the Russian investigative site The Project has claimed.
The property is said to be just half a mile from Valdai – Putin’s heavily-guarded and private residence.
How many children do they have?
The ex-gymnast is alleged to have a secret family with Putin.
In 2017, rumours started that Kabaeva was pregnant when she attended a girls’ gymnastics competition in Moscow wearing a loose-fitting red dress – which appeared to be hiding a bump.
A Russian newspaper then reported that the pair were engaged – but the story was denied and the paper was shut down by Kremlin authorities.
Stories that the couple had multiple children persisted after they were pictured together, forcing Kabaeva to deny having ever given birth.
However, unnamed officials claimed they had spotted kids on the premises of the luxurious mansion and satellite images taken between 2016 and 2020 showed a playground in the woods, which is believed to have been built for the family.
In 2023, a doctor was identified for the first time by Russian investigative outlet Proekt as the medical professional who had been with Kabaeva for the birth of at least two of Putin’s children.
It is understood Soviet-born Dr Natalia Thiebaud Kondratieva, 63, was the as-of-then unnamed medic who revealed the existence of the two children last year in the Swiss newspaper, Sonntagszeitung.
There are also rumours that Putin and Kabaeva have at least one more child.
Dr Kondratieva died in Switzerland on February 24 – the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Despite this, Putin has always been and remains secretive about his personal life and family.
A 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.”