by Lady Michelle-Jennifer Santos, Chief Visionary Founder & Owner
June 6, 2013 (TSR) – Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife, First Lady Lyudmila, said on Thursday night that they had separated and their marriage was over after 29 years, ending the speculations about their relationship.
The official announcement was made while being interviewed by Rossiya-24, a Russian state television, at the Grand Kremlin Palace, when 60-year-old Putin and his 55-year-old wife Lyudmila made their first public appearance, in more than a year, on attending the Esmeralda ballet. Thursday’s ballet is based on Victor Hugo’s “Notre-Dame de Paris.”
The couple had last been seen in public together at Putin’s inauguration to his third presidential term on May 7, 2012.
“It was our mutual decision, our marriage is over,” President Putin said in the interview.
“This was really our joint decision,” Putina said. “Our marriage is ended because of the fact we practically never see each other. Vladimir Vladimirovich is overwhelmed with work, our children have grown up. Everyone has their own life.”
“All my activities, all the work is done under the eye of the public, absolutely in view of the public,” Putin said. “Some people like this, some people don’t. There are some people who are not comfortable with this [public life], like Lyudmila Aleksandrovna.”
Putin’s private life has never been public. He reluctantly and briefly answered questions about his family. An official family portrait has been issued but have never been printed by the Russian media.
Apart from Putin’s principle on privacy, there’s also the Russian tradition.
The Russian office of first lady demands the attendance of many official ceremonies and functions of state – either by the side of the president or to represent him. Russia also heavily frowns upon the First Lady holding outside employment while occupying the office.
Compared to Mikhail Gorbachev’s wife Raisa, who raised many Russians’ hackles by her visibility, flair for fashionable dress and forthright comments, Putina maintained a low profile on the Russian political stage, generally avoiding the limelight except as required by protocol and restricting her public role to supportive statements about her husband. But that suits her just fine.
“I do not like publicity, and the flights are complicated for me. We love our children, we are proud of them and see each other often,” the First Lady said.
This should silence the rumors for reasons for not haven’t been seen in public since Putin’s inauguration last spring, and also for having no official celebration of her 55th birthday in January this year.
Asked to confirm if that was a divorce, Lyudmila Putina, who was standing by the President’s side, told the media, “Yes, you can say that, this is civilized divorce.”
But neither clarified whether they were legally divorced and Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said he did not know.
“We will always be friends. I am grateful that he supports me,” she added.
The two were married on July 28, 1983.
Vladimir Putin and Lyudmila were introduced to each other by a mutual friend. Lyudmila worked as an Aeroflot flight attendant on domestic airlines and had come to St. Petersburg, where Vladimir was based, (back in Soviet times it was called Leningrad) for three days with a friend.
“I was already working in the First Main Directorate in St. Petersburg, when a friend of mine called and invited me to the Arkady Raikin (named after a popular Soviet actor and comedian) theatre. He said he already had the tickets, and mentioned there would be two young ladies joining us. So we went to the performance and the young ladies did join us. The next day, we went to the theatre again, but it was now my turn to buy the tickets. And the same thing happened on the third day. I then began dating one of the girls. I became friends with Lyudmila, my future wife,” Putin recalls in his biography posted on his official website.
Three years after their first meeting, Vladimir proposed to Lyudmila. “I knew that if I did not marry for another two or three years, I would not marry at all. True, I was used to life as a bachelor, but Lyudmila changed that,” Putin admitted.
They have two daughters – Maria, 27, and Ekaterina, 26.
According to unconfirmed reports, Putin has one grandson, born in August 2012. They both live and work in Moscow.
The First Lady is a qualified linguist. In 1986, she graduated from St. Petersburg State University. In her public activity she dedicated efforts to preserve and develop the Russian language.
The Putin Rumors
Being the high-profile Russian politician, President Vladimir Putin has been a constant fixture in leading the country as well as rumors.
Unfounded rumors suggested that President Putin has been cheating on his wife for years.
One rumor was that he had an affair with spy-turned-lingerie model Anna Chapman, which has been strongly denied.
Another one is with 30-year-old Olympic gymnast Alina Kabaeva. She is one of Russia’s most decorated gymnasts, having won two Olympic medals – including gold at the Athens Olympics – and 14 world championship medals.
When she retired in 2007, she entered politics, becoming a State Duma deputy for President Putin’s United Russia party.
In 2008, the Moskovsky Korrespondent newspaper claimed she was secretly engaged to Putin, but he angrily denied it and called it ‘nonsense’ while in a press conference with Silvio Berlusconi. The Russian newspaper’s billionaire owner Aleksandr Lebedev quickly retracted the story and closed the paper down. But gossip continues to circulate.
Media claims Putin has a 3-year-old son with Alina Kabaeva. Early this year, The New York Post also claims that he also has a baby daughter with the flexible 29-year-old, who gave birth last November. But the Moscow media have never reported that Putin is the father, and when Kabaeva appeared on the cover of Russian Vogue in 2011, she said the boy was her nephew.
”My sweet little nephew Arsenio has joined my ever-extending family in Moscow. Everyone, of course, thinks that he is my son,” she laughed.
It is believed that Putin has moved Alina and her two kids into his palatial retreat in Sochi on the Black Sea, where the czars had their summer palace. That is where tax-avoiding French actor Gerard Depardieu recently picked up his Russian passport from Putin.
The New York Post says that Lyudmilla lives in the $1.5 million state-built guest house on the grounds of the ancient Yelizarov monastery outside Pskov, close to Estonia’s border.
Public divorces are uncommon among the country’s top-politicians and officials, despite the high divorce rate in Russia. Preisdent Putin is the first Russian president to divorce while in office.
As for other countries, France and Italy have also seen their leaders separate. In 2007 Nicolas and Cecilia Sarkozi divorced after almost 10 years of marriage. Italy’s now ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi also divorced his second wife Veronica Lario in 2009 after 19 years marriage.
President Vladimir Putin was re-elected to to the role of President in May last year, and he previously held the post from 2000 to 2008.
In between his these offices, he was Prime Minister of Russia from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2012.