The British government on Friday sanctioned Alina Kabaeva, the Olympic gymnastics champion who is said to be Vladimir Putin’s longtime lover and the mother of some of his children, in a move likely to anger the Russian president as his war in Ukraine nears its 80th day .
“Today’s sanctions will hit this cabal who owe their wealth and power to Putin and in return support Putin and his war machine,” the British government said in a press release.
Countries around the world have been working to cut off Putin and his inner circle of oligarchs and cronies since his invasion of Ukraine in February, increasing pressure on Moscow and cutting key allies off the world financial system. But pressure is mounting to expand that list to include his family members and closest allies in order to make the sanctions effective.
British sanctions against Kabaeva also target her grandmother Anna Zatseplina, as well as Putin’s ex-wife Lyudmila Ocheretnaya and several other associates and family members.
The European Union has also proposed sanctioning Kabaeva, a European sanctions agency told The Daily Beast, but the potential sanctions have been held up over Hungary’s objections to the ban on oil from Russia. Bloomberg News first reported on the rumored sanctions.
Kabaeva, who won gold in rhythmic gymnastics at the 2004 Olympics, has since retired and started working in politics as a pro-Kremlin lawmaker in Russia. She has since set up a charitable foundation and worked as the head of the Russian National Media Group, which oversees pro-government media and reportedly grossed nearly $12 million in salaries as of 2018 The Wall Street Journal.
Her leadership of the media group and her role in promoting Russian propaganda, thereby undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity at war, is one of the reasons she advocates sanctions, Bloomberg News reported.
The Kremlin has denied the romantic ties between Putin and Kabaeva.
“His family members form a core contingent of his inner circle – they are given positions of power because of their affiliation with the regime,” the British government said on Friday.
The Biden administration has considered sanctioning Kabaeva, but she has been spared in recent days, in part because White House officials feared her sanctioning would be viewed as a blow so deep and personal that Putin, in response, launched the war in the United States Ukraine could escalate diary reported.
The White House has indicated that more sanctions will follow.
“No one is safe from our sanctions,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week when asked about Kabaeva. “We’ll probably do more.”
The increasing grip on the Kremlin’s inner circle comes as Putin is weighing escalating the war in Ukraine beyond the country’s eastern regions to return to his old goals in the conflict, Biden administration intelligence officials warned lawmakers this week.
But his personal life could still prove to be a more volatile influence on the war. Putin has long been sensitive about his private life and tries to keep it private from the public eye. It was rumored that Kabaeva gave birth to at least one of his children in a hospital in Switzerland in 2015 and that she is also the mother of several of his other children.
Putin has previously commented on his rigid focus on keeping his personal life private from the public eye. “I have a personal life that I don’t want to get involved in. It has to be respected,” Putin said following reports of a romantic relationship with Kabaeva.
If the Moscow correspondent reported that Putin’s previous marriage had ended in divorce and he was engaged to Kabaeva at the Konstatinovsky Palace in St. Petersburg, the publication was quickly shut down citing mysterious financial problems.
“Of course, society has the right to know about the life of public figures, but even in this case there are certain limits,” Putin said at the time, according to a report by RFERL.
But Kabaeva, who is said to have taken up residence in a chalet in Switzerland while Putin wages war, is receiving a barrage of negative attention for benefiting from her ties to the Kremlin, according to Page Six reports. A petition with over 70,000 signatures is circulating, demanding their expulsion from Switzerland.
“Despite the current war, Switzerland continues to host an accomplice of the Putin regime,” the petition reads.
The Wall Street Journal also reported that Kabaeva was spotted in Switzerland.
However, it is currently unclear whether Kabaeva is actually in Switzerland. According to photos posted to Instagram by Ekaterina Sirotina, the head coach of Russia’s junior national rhythmic gymnastics team, she was spotted performing at a gymnastics event in Moscow last month.
And regardless of the extent of their alleged romantic relationship, Kabaeva has been enriched by her work for the regime and appears to be engaged in pro-Kremlin and pro-war propaganda herself.
Just last month, she stood in front of placards displaying the “Z” logo, symbolizing support for the Russian war in Ukraine, to speak at the gymnastics event.
“Every family has a war-related history, and we must pass these stories on to the next generations,” Kabaeva said. “We will only benefit from this.”
Putin may not have a neutral party in Switzerland to protect his alleged mistress, despite the country’s tendency to declare neutrality. Switzerland has jumped on board with other European and Western nations to sanction Russians and implement punitive measures. And although Jacques Pitteloud, the Swiss ambassador to the US, has said his country will maintain a legal definition of neutrality, the Swiss have sanctioned hundreds of Russians since the war began, including two of Putin’s daughters, it seems, loved ones People are not off the table.
The Swiss embassy in the US did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/alina-kabaeva-vladimir-putins-rumored-secret-lover-and-mother-of-his-kids-hit-with-string-of-uk-sanctions?source=articles&via=rss Alina Kabaeva, Vladimir Putin’s alleged secret lover and mother of his children, is being hit by a string of British sanctions