VLADIMIR Putin’s rumoured partner, Olympic gold medallist Alina Kabaeva, has made a rare public appearance apparently showing off her wedding ring.
The glamorous sportswoman, 33, wore a figure-hugging white dress to issue a patriotic message at the opening of the rhythmic gymnastics international tournament Grand Prix Moscow 2017.
“We’ve been first in the Olympics (in rhythmical gymnastics) for so many years. I hope it never ends,” said Ms Kabaeva, who was once banned for a doping offence, reports The Sun .
She appeared on stage alongside her former “tough” coach and mentor Irina Viner, wife of billionaire and Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov.
As usual, she threw no light on any relationship with the Russian strongman president.
Newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets headlined on her glowing looks: “Alina Kabaeva, who got much prettier, opened a gymnastic tournament …
“Observers noted that the 33-year-old former athlete looked great and her white dress favourably emphasised her slim shape.”
Mr Putin, 64, has never acknowledged a relationship with Ms Kabaeva, despite rumours they have had children together, and he jealously guards his right to a private life.
She has made no announcement regarding her love life and in interviews she is never directly asked about him.
Ms Kabaeva has been linked with no other partners for almost a decade despite being seen as one of Russia’s most eligible women.
She wore a ring on the fourth finger of her right hand, the usual wedding ring finger for Russian women.
|Kabayeva at the Laureus World Sports Awards at the Mariinsky Concert Hall on February 18, 2008 in St.Petersburg, Russia. Picture: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images|
|Alina Kabaeva performs with clubs during a training session at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Picture: AP.|
It appears to be the same white metal ring she has worn on outings in the past year, but it is seen more clearly now.
The pictures produced a stream of online comments.
One wrote: “What a beautiful woman! If they’re telling the truth about her and VVP, in his shoes I’d marry her and bring her into the limelight, not hide her.”
But another Ekaterina Zakharova replied: “They are already married and even in church — 100 per cent true information. So everything is fine.
“And they are doing it the right way, not to publicise this. If they did, the dirt will be poured at once, and now there is kind of suspicion, but no one has proof.”
“They are already married and even in church. So everything is fine. And they do it right not to publicise this”.
|Vladimir Putin and his then wife Lyudmila. Picture: Supplied.|
Another comment said: “She already is the first lady, just officially undeclared unfortunately. It’s a shame.”
Speculation first linked her and Mr Putin in 2008 when he attacked the “erotic fantasies” of journalists who poked their “snotty noses” into other people’s lives.
Ms Kabaeva is a former MP in Mr Putin’s United Russia party, and now heads a giant pro-Kremlin media company.
Mr Putin divorced wife in 2014.
Mrs Viner has said of Ms Kabaeva’s love life: “When Alina finds the right time, she will say it herself. I’m just happy for her.”
Russia currently has no official first lady.
Putin once said: “I have a private life in which I do not permit interference ... it must be respected.”