Who is Alina Kabaeva, former gymnast rumored to be Vladimir Putin's girlfriend?
The EU was reportedly hesitant in including Kabaeva until now, fearing that the move might lead to an escalation of the tensions between Russia and the EU.
Former gymnast Alina Kabaeva, who is alleged to be romantically involved with Russian President Vladimir Putin, is likely to be included in the European Union’s proposed sixth round of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, it has been claimed in multiple reports, citing the official document.
The EU was reportedly hesitant in including Kabaeva until now, fearing that the move might lead to an escalation of the tensions between Russia and the EU. The sanctions were submitted on Wednesday by the EU executive to member states for approval. It needs unanimity among the 27 countries to come into effect. If passed, Kabaeva would be hit by a ban on entry into the EU and an asset freeze, news agency AFP reported.
Who is Alina Kabaeva?
Born in 1983, Kabaeva is one of the most decorated gymnasts in the world. During her active career in rhythmic gymnastics, she won two Olympic medals, 14 World Championship medals, and 21 European Championship medals. In 2014, she was chosen as one of the torch bearers when Russia hosted the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The gymnast was first linked to Putin in 2008., when a small tabloid newspaper, Moskovsky Korrespondent, published a report that Putin was planning to marry Kabaeva. The report drew a furious denial from Moscow, with Putin telling journalists to keep their "snotty noses" out of his private life.
However, the rumours have refused to die down over the years, and it is alleged that Kabaeva and Putin also have kids together.
Kabaeva is also said to be the chairman of the National Media Group which owns major stocks in almost all Russian media outlets. She also had a brief stint in politics from 2007 to 2014 when she held a seat in Russia's lower house of parliament with the ruling United Russia party.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, citing US officials, Kabaeva and her family have gained personal fortune due to her connection to Putin.
Her relationship with the Russian President was investigated by opposition leader Alexei Navalny who also claims that she moved to elite ranks because of her close connections. "There is no doubt that Alina Maratovna Kabaeva jumps better than anyone else with a ball and ribbon, but she would not have been able to manage television companies and newspapers if it weren't for her connection with Putin," Navalny has said in 2021.
Allegations on social media have claimed that Kabaeva was in Switzerland. However, in March this year, Switzerland’s Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) carried out necessary checks in the country but found "no indication of the presence" of this individual.
(With agency inputs)