Vladimir Putin’s alleged secret mistress, Alina Kabaeva, 38, has been spotted sporting a “new look” in Moscow amid claims that she was hiding out in a Swiss chalet or a Siberian nuclear bunker.
The Olympic gold-medalist was photographed at a junior rhythmic gymnastics rehearsal at the city’s VTB Arena this week ahead of tomorrow’s annual Alina Festival charitable event.
The pictures sparked claims that the gymnast may have used the same cosmetic surgeon as the Russian Leader amid rumours of botox and fillers.
Russian Cosmopolitan said: “something has really changed in Kabaeva’s face”.
Avoiding linking her to Putin, it said of a woman widely believed to be Russia’s unofficial first lady: “Alina Kabaeva is one of the most mysterious and secretive women in our country.
“The gymnast almost never appears in public, does not [appear in] social networks, and it is not possible to accidentally see her on the street or in shopping centres.”
Telegram channel Tol’ko Nikomu also chose its words carefully to avoid the Russian censor and hinted that she and Putin share the same plastic surgeon.
“A new rare appearance of Alina Kabaeva. This time she is dressed casually – and is again seen with a wedding ring.
“And yes, the handwriting of the family beautician is quite notable.”
A TV version of Kabaeva’s festival will be broadcast on the eve of Russia’s May 9 Victory Day commemoration marking the end of the Second World War.
Putin is expected to declare some kind of victory in Ukraine , with some suggesting he will claim he has seized the entire Donbas for Russia.
Unlike two of Putin’s adult daughters – Maria and Katerina – media mogul Kabaeva, who controls a significant segment of the pro-Kremlin Moscow media, has avoided Western sanctions.
Yet jailed Putin foe, Alexei Navalny, has demanded sanctions against her.
Kabaeva has kept a low profile in the Ukraine war – but her media has been vocal in cheerleading for Putin.
Earlier, she ignored the lurch towards war when she was caught on video in December dancing in Moscow, her last public appearance before this week.
Since the beginning of the invasion, speculation has circulated that Kabaeva and her supposed secret young family with Putin have been hiding from the war either in Switzerland or in one of several high-grade bunkers in the Urals, Arctic or Siberia.
A petition demanding she was thrown out by the Swiss authorities garnered 75,000 signatures, demanding that “it’s time you reunite Eva Braun with her Führer”.
Rumours first linked her romantically to Putin as long ago as 2008 when she was a pro-Kremlin MP.
The newspaper printing the story was closed down almost immediately.
Putin, who in 2013 announced his divorce from wife Lyudmila, a former Aeroflot stewardess, has previously said: “I have a private life in which I do not permit interference. It must be respected.”
He deplored “those who with their snotty noses and erotic fantasies prowl into others’ lives”.
Kabaeva is on record as saying she had met a man who “I love very much”, gushing: “Sometimes you feel so happy that you even feel scared.”
In 2001 Kabaeva was temporarily banned from competing in rhythmic gymnastics after failing a doping test.
A year earlier, she had won gold at the 2000 summer Olympics.
Once regarded as Russia’s most eligible woman, her only other suitor has been a married Georgian policeman, according to media reports.
This relationship petered out in 2005 amid complaints of tabloid intrusion into her life.
She even once posed almost nude for Maxim and was described as “full of sex” by a photographer.
There have also been many reports of her wearing a wedding ring, but there are no records of a marriage.
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