An Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast long rumoured to have had twins with Russian President Vladimir Putin has disappeared from public view.
Alina Kabaeva had glittered under a spotlight for two decades. She was an Olympic gold-medal athlete in her teens in the 2000s, a member of Russia’s parliament for years, and now, in her 30s, remains the boss, at least in name, of a major national media company, the New York Post reports.
But it would be as Putin’s reputed love interest for the past dozen years — and quite possibly the mother of four of his children — that the spotlight would glare its brightest.
Since 2008, Europe’s tabloids have pored over her pregnancies, public appearances and online postings, speculating over a rumoured romance that remained stubbornly unconfirmed by both Putin and Kabaeva.
Then suddenly — after she wore a billowing red dress to her last public appearance, in the fall of 2018, prompting rumours of yet another pregnancy — the spotlight clicked off, and she disappeared from public life.
She has been raising her new twin boys, born in May 2019, and two older children also rumoured to have been fathered by Putin, in secrecy ever since.
“He is obsessive about the security of his family,” a Moscow source told the Sun newspaper of the Russian strongman.
“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,” the source added. “If Alina gave birth to his children, her hiding away might be one of the strongest hints pointing to this.”
Kabaeva became a Russian superstar in the early 2000s as a fresh-faced, gold-bedecked rhythmic gymnast.
She collected two gold medals in 2004, and before that won 14 World Championship medals and 25 European Championship medals.
Kabaeva retired from gymnastics in 2006, later joining Putin’s United Russia Party, becoming a member of Russia’s parliament.
Rumours of a romance between Putin — who at 68 is twice Kabaeva’s age — began popping up soon after.
The European tabloids speculated that Kabaeva’s two children, born in 2009 and 2012, were fathered by the strongman.
But the Putin-Kabaeva rumours ran rampant in 2013, when the then-prime minister divorced his wife of nearly 30 years, Lyudmila Putina, a former Aeroflot flight attendant and mother of the strongman’s two acknowledged children.
No sooner had he divorced than the European tabloids claimed that he intended to marry Kabaeva.
“I like all Russian women,” the new bachelor quipped in brushing off the rumours then.
The tabloids went wild the next year, for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, when it was rumoured — wrongly, it turned out — that Kabaeva would light the Olympic flame.
Kabaeva, apparently, was otherwise occupied.
In April 2015, she gave birth to twin boys in Moscow.
This story originally appeared in the New York Postand has been reproduced with permission.