Now here’s an interesting rumour circulating around the Russian language blogs – 26 year old Russian Olympic gymnast turned Duma Deputy Alina Kabaeva has just given birth to Vladimir Putin’s son.
Kabaeva, if you recall, was the Russian beauty who alleged to have secretly married Putin last year. The story captured headlines all over the world, and – unsurprisingly – made Putin very very cross. Aleksandr Lebedev, the billionaire owner of Moskovsky Korrespondent, the newspaper that broke the story, was hauled over the coals by Putin, forced to retract the story, and closed the newspaper down within months.
(Naturally, we all know that President Putin, a balding man in his 50s, was secretly delighted to be linked romantically with a flexible young Russian gymnast, regardless of whether the story was true or not.)
Adding fuel to the rumour fire is that not a single one of the major Russian news agencies have mentioned the birth. I suppose that it is possible that nobody in Russia thinks this is newsworthy, but more likely, they saw what happened to the last newspaper to break a story about Putin’s love life and decided that they’d quite like to stay in business.
But, whatever the reason, it’s raised eyebrows. As Russia! Magazine’s Blah Blah blog notes / pleads:
“The most puzzling part of this story is that at press time not a single major Russian media has reported that Kabaeva had a son. Come on, Channel One Russia and The Moscow Times, say something! Or else the bloggers are starting to look very convincing.”
A few (a very few!) internet only publications are covering the story. But even they are nervous. Take this story from Rupor.info, for example who noticed that Express Gazeta posted a small story about the birth, then quickly withdrew it.
Want more fuel to add to the fire? How about this?
Putin and his (official) wife Ludmilla haven’t been seen out together in public for more than a year. Most strikingly at this Easter’s publicly televised TV service, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stood with his wife Svetlana, but Putin stood alone.
Until last week, that is – the two ventured out for a very public meeting with the newly appointed Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Kiril.
The question on Russian bloggers minds is, why would one bring one’s (official) aged wife out of semi-retirement at exactly the same time as one’s (alleged!) wife has just given birth to a bouncing baby boy?
Is it because Putin wants deflect rumours about his alleged illegitimate son and represent himself as a stable, long-married family man, respectable enough to be elected again as Russia’s President in a few years time?
Update 27 May 2009: Kabaeva has posted an update on her blog categorically denying that she has given birth. Which kind of rules out the prospect of Putin bouncing a bonny baby boy on his knee any time soon…
Dear friends! I don’t normally comment rumors, but this time I’ve decided to make an exception. The reason being I cannot leave unanswered many warm words and wishes … On my site in the section “My life” I promised to tell about most important events in my life, about my family. Hence, when I become a mother (which hasn’t happen yet), I will certainly write about it. At any rate – I thank all those who congratulated me and showed their concern. Just for you I have compromised my principle: never to pay any attention to rumors.”
Translation courtesy of The Russian President, a reliable friend of Prime Minister Putin 😉
Update 18 December 2009:
Rumours are circulating (again!) that former gymnast Alina Kabaeva has given birth to a bouncing baby boy, who just happens to be President of Russia Vladimir Putin’s son.
These rumours come not long after almost identical rumours swept the world’s media in May – I reported about the phantom Alina Kabaeva baby here on Siberian Light at the time. As you can guess, the rumours turned out to be untrue… much like the rumours that Kabaeva and Putin were secretly engaged.
Mostly the stories coming out this week have been reported in Indian newspapers (see the Indian Times for an example) and Indian blogs, but a couple of Canadian newspapers have also picked up the story.
The common theme to all the stories this time round is that, again, absolutely no Russian newspapers are covering this story. The cynical will, of course say that the Russian press is terrified of stepping out of line, for fear of facing Putin’s wrath, but as far as I can tell, the real reason is that there is absolutely no substance to the stories – from my reading, it seems as if this week’s stories are just re-hashes of the May story. Even some of the quotes are recycled.
Still, it gives me the opportunity to quote this excellent gem of Russian political incorrectness, which turned up entirely unattributed in the Inquisitr:
one analyst told us, Putin is very careful about his public image. Still, considering Russias Muslim population is about 30 million, it might not hurt him politically to have a beautiful, half-Muslim wife.
I wonder if this story will get far enough off the ground to result in another Kabaeva / Putin denial?