Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has apparently split from his wife Ludmilla and is preparing to tie the knot with 24-year-old gymnast Alina Kabaeva.
The revelation comes after a Moscow newspaper reported that Putin recently split with Ludmilla and is preparing to marry the young and very pretty Kabaeva.
A Russian website alleged that Alina was seen kissing Putin in a Moscow restaurant.
There is added piquancy in the fact that, despite her youth, Kabaeva has recently been made an MP.
The gymnast is one of a number of young and beautiful Russian dancers and athletes who, under Putin's patronage, have lately become deputies in the Duma— Russia's lower parliament.
Aged only 15, she won the gold medal in the 1998 European Championships. The following year she secured the world title and was favourite to repeat the success at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Disaster struck, however, when she dropped her hoop and it rolled off the carpet. She went home with only a bronze and all of Russia wept with her.
It is said that this was when she first came to Putin's attention and made his acquaintance.
But rumours about the state of Putin’s marriage have been rife for some time in Moscow media circles.
The story that Ludmilla and the President have already, in fact, divorced appeared in the Moscow tabloid Moscovski Korrespondent, reports the Daily Mail.
The newspaper claimed that the secret divorce came through in February and that Putin will marry the gymnast-turned-MP in St Petersburg on June 15.
The article cited a source close to an event planning company saying the firm was competing for the right to host the wedding at an imperial palace on this date.
As the story of his divorce circulated around Moscow, it was claimed that Putin had been seen having an intimate dinner with Kabaeva in a city centre restaurant earlier this year.
Last night, her father muddied the waters when he said he hadn't heard if his daughter was marrying or not. But he added: “If she marries such a man it will be great. He's quite similar to me.”