Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement that his marriage is over appears at odds with his declared conservative values but would make sense if he plans to remarry, analysts said on Friday.
In a country where there is a divorce for every two marriages, the announcement by Putin and Lyudmila, his wife of 30 years, may not make a dent in his popularity ratings, but is out of synch with his pronouncements about the values of traditional family.
The awkward announcement, made late Thursday evening after the pair attended a ballet performance together in Moscow, lifted the lid on the poorly kept secret that Putin and the first lady are separated.
State channels on Friday replayed the interview, in which Lyudmila, 55, bashfully said the divorce is "civilised" and that the 60-year-old president "really cares" about their two daughters.
Divorce is frowned upon by the ultra-conservative Orthodox Church, and Putin himself declared this year that a "traditional family with lots of children should be a symbol of Russia."
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday denied any rumours that the president has a relationship with another woman.
"It's not difficult to take a look at Putin's work schedule. And you will see that his life, perhaps unfortunately, is in no way tied to any family relationships, only to those responsibilities that he has as the head of state," he told the Echo of Moscow radio station.
An imminent second marriage is "rather closer to the category of rumours and gossip," he added.