Rumors Fly that Putin Has Remarried

Alina Kabaeva appears in a music video, 12 September 2010, screenshot from YouTube.

Alina Kabaeva appears in a music video, 12 September 2010, screenshot from YouTube.

There have long been rumors that Vladimir Putin has a romantic relationship with Uzbekistan-born former gymnast Alina Kabaeva. Indeed, the speculation predates Putin's divorce, which he announced to the press in June 2013. In the last week, the gossip has flared up again, and this time the RuNet's busybodies suspect that Putin (age 60) and Kabaeva (age 30) may finally have tied the knot.

It started with a mid-afternoon tweet on Saturday:

I am told that Putin and Kabaeva were married today in the Iversky Monastery. All of Valdai is cordoned off.

This message, written by lawyer Koloy Akhilgov, grabbed over 500 retweets, and sent the Russian blogosphere scrambling for more information. A few hours later, Akhilgov reported:

Friends, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the facts, but locals reported the FSO blocked off everything and everyone around Iversky.

A parody Twitter account that mocks Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, soon tweeted:

Yes, Vladimir Vladimirovich is married! Though not to Alina Kabaeva, but to the kingdom.

Within hours of Akhilgov's first tweet, Dmitry Peskov went on TV Dozhd (TV Rain) and denied the rumors, reproving the blogosphere for its chatter, and accusing netizens of “Internet exercises on Saturday out of boredom.”  This seemingly vague denial only heightened the buzz online. For instance, LiveJournal user Egor Sedov argued that Peskov had only stoked the flames of the rumor and made it an even bigger story.

Я этих слухов не слышал.  Зато теперь – услышал. Кому спасибо говорить? А г. Пескову, вот кому. Смолчал бы Песков – и слухи (даже если они и были) стихли бы сами собой. Теперь – нет. А вообще, Кабаева, вроде, мусульманка? Или нет? Если мусульманка, то возможно ли венчание?

I had not heard these rumors. But now I have. Whom can I say thank? Mr. Peskov, that's who! If Peskov had said nothing, the rumors (even if they are true) would have died down by themselves. But not now. Another thing: is Kabaeva a Muslim? Or no? If she is a Muslim, is a wedding possible?

Also commenting on the religious aspect of a potential Putin-Kabaeva union, another blogger speculated that Kabaeva has converted to Orthodoxy, in order to marry Putin.

Blogger Pasha Businessman urged the blogosphere to calm down and stop spreading unfounded rumors:

Считаю все эти слухи выдумками. Кроме самих слухов подтверждений из других источников нет.

Ни одной фотографии, ни одного видео и так далее. Даже не важно как это комментирует пресс-служба. Кроме вбросов таблоидов и таблоидных журналистов никаких других фактов, что Путин встречается с Кабаевой нет.

Господа журналисты давайте не будем бегать впереди паровоза, получите факты, зафиксируйте, подтвердите из независимых источников а потом и публикуйте.

I think that all of these rumors are just inventions. Except for the rumors, nothing is confirmed by other sources. Not one photograph, not one video, and so on. It does not matter what the press office says. Besides stuffing the tabloids and all the tabloid journalists, there are no other facts that Putin [even] met with Kabaeva. Lord, journalists, let’s not run ahead of the engine. Get the facts, get a handle on them, verify using independent sources, and then publish.

On her Facebook wall, journalist Natalia Gevorkyan wondered why the Kremlin has to make everything a “special operation,” noting how Putin waited for wide speculation in the media to accumulate before announcing his divorce.

Сколько лет не жил с женой, прежде чем сходить в театр на интервью о разводе? Теперь столько же лет проживет в браке, прежде чем о нем объявить? Может, правда, на Олимпийских играх…. Как-то логично-символично.

How many years did he [Putin] not live with his wife before going to the theatre for an interview about his divorce? Now will he live as many years in this marriage before it is announced? Maybe, however, at the Olympic games…. Somehow [it could be] logical-symbolic [to reveal it there].

The odds are that the gossip about Putin's remarriage is just that. But if Gevorkyan is right that Putin is waiting for another unexpected, well-attended setting for the dramatic reveal, we may have to wait until next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi.

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