The former queen, dressed in a luxurious dress, held a rhythmic gymnastics festival. The program was solemnized by an orchestra playing military songs.The Russian media outlet ZVEZDI reported that a “military salute show” was held in Moscow on May 9, Victory Day against Germany. The event was opened by Alina Kabaeva, 38, a women’s rhythmic gymnastics gold medalist at the Athens Olympics in August 2004. She is said to be President Vladimir Putin’s “mistress.”
In April 2008, the Russian tabloid Moskovsky Correspondent reported that President Putin and Ms. Kabaeva were having a romantic relationship. President Putin has denied this, but they have often been seen alone together. Kabaeva, who considers herself a “loyal subordinate of the president,” gave birth to a baby boy in December 2009 without disclosing the father. It is said that she and President Putin have at least three children together.
Perhaps because of her popularity with President Putin, Kabaeva was unusually promoted after her retirement from active duty in February 2008. After winning election to Russia’s lower house of parliament, she became head of public relations for the Sochi Olympics held in February 2002 and general manager of the State Press Group, which controls the media.
Kabaeva is said to be living currently with her children in neutral Switzerland. However, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, she has frequently appeared at domestic events in support of military action.
Assets frozen, remittances stopped
Kabaeva, who can be called a “billboard” for President Putin, is currently on the verge of a crisis. According to a May 7 report by the U.S. media outlet CNN, the European Union (EU) has “placed her on a list of proposed sanctions” as someone extremely close to President Putin. If the proposed sanctions are approved, Kabaeva’s assets will be frozen. Withdrawals and remittances will also be stopped.
Professor Itsuro Nakamura of Tsukuba Gakuin University, an expert on the situation in Russia, explains.
“The United States also considered sanctions against Kabaeva at one point, but the EU put a hold on them just before approving them, citing the risk of raising tensions with Russia. The EU must have been frustrated by the weak stance of the US.“
Other close relatives are also subject to sanctions. Putin’s two daughters have also had their assets frozen. Why has the U.S. been so reluctant to deal with Kabaeva? Nakamura continues.
“I think the baby boy he has with Kabaeva has a lot to do with it. Putin’s ambition is to build his own dynasty and revive a great Russia. Kabaeva’s son is an irreplaceable successor to President Putin. If Kabaeva is sanctioned, her children’s lives will be impoverished. The U.S. government may have feared an overreaction from President Putin.”
If the EU decides to sanction Kabaeva, what could happen?
“It is inevitable that President Putin will be furious. From Kaliningrad, Russia’s ‘enclave,’ he would launch an onslaught on North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bases with ballistic missiles and other weapons. In the worst-case scenario, nuclear weapons could be used.”
The “former queen of rhythmic gymnastics” is becoming a key figure in international affairs concerning Russia.