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Putin has 2 daughters he barely ever talks about, and is rumoured to have at least 2 more. His rumored mistress has just been slammed with sanctions.

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Russian President Vladimir and his now ex-wife Lyudmila Shkrebneva.Sergey Ponomarev/AP
  • Russian president Vladimir Putin has at least two daughters he rarely talks about.

  • He has two adult daughters with his ex-wife Lyudmila Shkrebneva: Maria, 36, and Katerina, 35.

  • One rumored mistress, Alina Kabaeva, was sanctioned by the US in August.

President Vladimir Putin is famously secretive of his personal life, and has fought hard to prevent the media and the world from knowing much about his family.

He has long made a concerted effort to shield his children from the spotlight.

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Putin has never publicly acknowledged his children, though media outlets have for years speculated and reported about the two daughters Putin had with his ex-wife.

Further reports center around rumors that two extramarital affairs may have produced another two daughters.

But as international pressure mounts on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, sanctions have closed in on his personal networks and in particular, his children and rumoured girlfriends.

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One daughter from his first marriage, Katerina Tikhonova, has been entrusted with a key job overseeing import substitutions as Russia reels under sanctions.

And in August, ex-gymnast Alina Kabaeva — with whom Putin is rumoured to have had two children — was sanctioned by the US government.

Here is what we know about the lives of Putin’s secret kids and girlfriends.

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Pat Ralph contributed reporting to previous versions of this article.

Putin had two daughters in his first marriage to former flight attendant Lyudmila Shkrebneva, to whom he was married for three decades until their divorce in 2013.

Vladimir Putin Lyudmilla Wife

AP

Sources: Vladimir Putin, Reuters, Business Insider

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Their daughter’s names are Maria and Katerina. Maria was born in Leningrad in 1985, and Katerina was born in Germany in 1986 when the family lived there during her father’s time in the KGB.

Vladimir Putin daughters

Maria and Katerina Putin, from their father’s personal archive.Reuters

Sources: Vladimir PutinReutersNewsweek

Both girls are named after their grandmothers. Maria’s nickname is Masha and Katerina’s nickname is Katya.

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vladimir putin parents

Putin’s father, Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin, and his mother, Maria Ivanovna Shelomova.Kremlin

Masha and Katya are common Russian shortenings for Maria and Katerina.

Sources: Vladimir PutinReutersNewsweek

When the family moved to Moscow in 1996, the girls attended a German-language school. The children were reportedly removed from school when Putin became acting president, and teachers educated them at home.

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vladimir putin wife acting president 2000 Lyudmila

Then-acting President Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila applaud during a concert after an award ceremony in Gudermes on January 1, 2000.REUTERS

Source: Newsweek

“Not all fathers are as loving with their children as he is,” Lyudmila said in a quote on Putin’s government website. “And he has always spoiled them, while I was the one who had to discipline them.”

Vladimir Putin Lyudmilla Wife

Vesti.ru screengrab

Source: Vladimir Putin

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Maria studied biology in college and went to medical school in Moscow, while Katerina majored in Asian Studies in college. Both girls attended university under false identities.

Vladimir Putin wife

Putin and wife Ludmila arrive at the airport in Rostock-Laage, Germany on June 6, 2007.Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Sources: ReutersNewsweek

Maria, now 36, is a medical researcher and lives in Moscow with her Dutch husband, Jorrit Faassen.

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Vladimir Putin Wife

AP

Sources: ReutersNewsweekBloomberg

Maria and Faassen reportedly have a child — Putin told filmmaker Oliver Stone in 2017 that he was a grandfather. When Stone asked if he played with his grandchild, Putin replied, “Very seldom, unfortunately.”

vladimir putin oliver stone the putin interviews

“The Putin Interviews” was a four-part series that premiered on Showtime in May 2017.Showtime

Sources: ReutersThe Independent, Bloomberg, Daily Mail

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Meanwhile, Katerina reportedly lives a high-flying life, living in lavish apartments and acquiring a fortune.

Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin makes a toast during an award ceremony in the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia on Dec. 28, 2017.Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool Photo via AP

Sources: ReutersThe Independent, Bloomberg, Daily Mail

Katerina, now 35, is an accomplished acrobatic dancer and has a senior position at her alma mater, Moscow State University, heading a $1.7 billion startup incubator.

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Katerina Putin

Katerina Tikhonovna, daughter of Vladimir Putin, dancing.Jakub Dabrowski/Reuters

Sources: Reuters, Bloomberg

Katerina married Russian billionaire Kirill Shamalov in 2013. But the couple divorced in 2018, and the divorce case revealed they were worth $2 billion.

Kirill Shamalov

Kirill Shamalov, the former husband of Putin’s daughter KaterinaReuters/Kommersant Photo/Dmitry Dukhanin

Sources: BloombergReutersThe Guardian   

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But flight records suggest that in 2017, Katerina had begun a clandestine relationship with German ballet star Igor Zelensky. She had a daughter with him.

German ballet star Igor Zelensky, pictured in front of a chandelier, in 2014.

Igor Zelensky the father of Katerina’s child pictured, in 2014. In 2016 he became director of the Bavarian State Ballet.Tobias Hase/picture alliance via Getty Images

Zelensky has served as the director of the Bavarian State Ballet and the Munich State Ballet.

Source: Important Stories and Der Spiegel

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Katerina secretly flew to Munich more than 50 times to see Zelensky between 2017 and 2019, with their daughter in tow.

German ballet director Igor Zelensky pictured with arms raised on stage, with blue lighting behind him, in 2018.

Igor Zelensky on stage in 2018 in Munich, Germany.Gisela Schober/Getty Images

The relationship was revealed by a 2022 investigation that examined Katerina’s flight records, showing that she traveled with members of Putin’s presidential secret service. 

Source: Important Stories and Der Spiegel

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There are no official current photos of the girls. For Katerina, we found the slightly varying first names “Katerina”, “Katya”, and “Yekaterina,” and the last names “Putina,” “Tikhonova,” and “Shamalov.”

Katerina Tikhonova putina vladimir putin daughter

Katerina Tikhonova (L), daughter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, dances with Ivan Klimov during the World Cup Rock’n’Roll Acrobatic Competition in Krakow, Poland, on April 12, 2014.REUTERS/Jakub Dabrowski

Sources: ReutersNewsweek

There are rumors that Putin has a third daughter with girlfriend and former Russian rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabaeva.

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Alina Kabayeva Vladimir Putin

Putin greets rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabayeva during a meeting with candidates to the Russian Olympic team for Summer Olympics 2004 at the presidential residence in Novo-Ogaryovo outside Moscow on March 10, 2004.REUTERS/Pool AS

Source: New York Post

Neither the child nor the relationship with Kabaeva have been confirmed.

Alina Kabaeva vladimir putin girlfriend

Putin smiles next to Russian gymnast Alina Kabaeva during a meeting with the Russian Olympic team at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on November 4, 2004.REUTERS/ITAR-TASS/PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE

Source: Business Insider

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Finally, an investigation claimed that a former cleaning lady, Svetlana Krivonogikh, had an affair with Putin and suddenly moved into one of St Petersburg’s wealthiest neighborhoods.

An aerial view of St Petersburg's prestigious Birch Alley, where one of Putin's rumored mistresses was reported to live.

An aerial view of St Petersburg’s prestigious Birch Alley, where one of Putin’s rumored mistresses was reported to live.Google Earth

An investigation by independent Russian outlet Proekt claimed that the pair had a close friendship between the late 1990s and the end of the 2010s, which resulted in a daughter.

In that time, Krivonogikh went from a former cleaning lady to the billionaire owner of one of Putin’s favourite ski resorts, according to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

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Krivonogikh’s daughter, born 2003, is called Elizaveta Vladimirovna Rozova, and also goes by Luisa. Identity papers do not indicate a father, but her middle name means “daughter of Vladimir.” She has not confirmed any relationship.

A Google Earth image of St Petersburg's elite Birch Alley complex.

A Google Earth image of St Petersburg’s elite Birch Alley complex.Google Earth

The Proekt investigation remarked on Elizaveta’s “phenomenal resemblance” to Putin and many connections between the president and her mother, but no relation has been proven.

In an interview with Russian GQ, Elizaveta’s face was not depicted. When asked whether she looked like Putin, she agreed, but said “there are a lot of people similar to Vladimir Vladimirovich,” using an alternative, respectful name for Putin.

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Putin has tried to shelter his children from the media, attempting to keep them out of politics so they can live normal lives.

World Cup

Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images

Sources: Reuters, Business Insider

Despite this, Katerina made her debut on Russian state TV as a biotechnology expert in December 2018.

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putin daughter yekaterina katerina

Katerina Tikhonova (R) on Rossiya 1 on December 7, 2018.Rossiya 1

Source: Business Insider

Her appearance did not include comment on her being related to Putin. The link was briefly made public in the course of a dance competition, but later retracted.

vladimir putin and daughter Katerina Tikhonova

Katerina Tikhonova (L) and Vladimir PutinREUTERS

Source: Reuters

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In June 2021, Katerina addressed a conference that is Russia’s equivalent of Davos — but nobody called her Putin’s daughter, apparently out of fear of reprisal from the Kremlin.

Katerina Tikhonova.JPG

Katerina Tikhonova, deputy director of the Institute for Mathematical Research of Complex Systems at Moscow State University, on screen taking part in a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia, on June 4, 2021.Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters

Source: The Washington Post

In late 2020, Putin announced Russia had completed its COVID-19 vaccine, although it had yet to complete clinical assessments. Putin said he gave the shot to one of his two daughters, but wouldn’t specify which one.

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Vladimir Putin coronavirus vaccine

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the government via video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia, on August 11, 2020.Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi/Kremlin via REUTERS

Sources: Business Insider, BBC, Politico

Putin said his daughter’s temperature decreased after getting two shots. “She has taken part in the experiment,” he said, adding, “She’s feeling well and has a high number of antibodies.”

Vladimir Putin

Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo / AP Images

Sources: Business Insider, BBC, Politico

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It was a rare acknowledgment for Putin, but one still shrouded in mystery.

Putin

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting of the Russian Security Council at Moscow’s Kremlin.Alexei Nikolsky\TASS via Getty Images

In February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, prompting condemnation from around the world. Three weeks later an activist filmed himself inside what he said was a Biarritz apartment owned by Katerina’s ex-husband, saying he wanted to host Ukrainian refugees there.

Putin villa biaritz

An image showing an activist flying a Ukrainian flag from the balcony of a villa linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Biarritz, France.Russia Today

Source: Insider, The Insider.

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In April, the US sanctioned Maria and Katerina, saying that they had “enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian people.” A statement said “This action cuts them off from the US financial system and freezes any assets they hold in the United States.”

Vladimir Putin Katerina Tikhonova

Getty/Reuters

The Wall Street Journal said that the EU could also sanction the two women.

An EU spokesperson said the bloc is “currently discussing the proposals for further sanctions, including new listings of individuals and entities,” but could not comment on who would be targeted by them.

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Source: The Wall Street Journal, The White House

The US announcement also contained more details about their work. saying that it has close ties to the Kremlin. Tikhonova’s work supports Russia’s government and defense industry, while Vorontsova’s genetics research programs are personally overseen by Putin, the White House said.

The main building of Moscow State University.

The main building of the Moscow State University. As of 2021, Tikhonova was Deputy Director of its Institute for Mathematical Research of Complex SystemsAlexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images

Source: ABC News.

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The US said it believed the women are hiding assets for Putin, which was its rationale for sanctioning them. The Kremlin expressed confusion over the decision, suggesting it was anti-Russian.

Vladimir Putin

Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

A senior official at the Biden administration said: “We believe that many of Putin’s assets are hidden with family members and that’s why we’re targeting them.”

Putin’s top spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin found the decision “difficult to understand” and framed it as part of a “rabid” western animosity towards Russia.

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Source: ABC News, Reuters.

The UK quickly followed suit with a raft of sanctions on Maria and Katerina, among others in Putin’s inner circle, aimed at hitting their “lavish lifestyles.”

A gated villa belonging to Kirill Shamalov in BIarritz, France. It has a turret and a gabled roof.

The villa registered in the name of Kirill Shamalov, Katerina Tikhonova’s ex-husband, in Biarritz, France.Gaizka Iroz/AFP via Getty Images

Source: The Press Association.

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In July 2022, as sanctions began to bite in Russia, Tikhonova was given a top post overseeing import substitutions.

Putin meets with the head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Alexander Shokhin in Moscow, Russia March 2, 2022

Putin meeting with the head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Alexander Shokhin in March 2022.Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters

Tikhonova was appointed to the post at the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. State media reporting on this did not mention her relationship to Putin.

Source: RBC

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Four months later, the US added Kabaeva to its sanctions list, citing her ‘close relationship’ with Putin.

Alina Kabaeva, smiling and wearing a sequinned dress, at Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia, July,14,2018.

Alina Kabaeva pictured in Moscow in July 2018.Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The US government had initially held off sanctioning Kabaeva on the basis that it would be too personal a provocation.

But Kabaeva was finally sanctioned on August 2 over her ties to the Russian government. She had become a politician after retiring from sports, and as of 2022 was head of the pro-Kremlin National Media Group.

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Source: US Treasury Department, The Wall Street Journal.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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