Name and photo of Putin’s ‘lover’ removed from website of media empire she controls

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The name and photo of Vladimir Putin’s “lover” have dramatically disappeared from the website of the media empire she controls.

Alina Kabaeva, 38, was a board member of the National Media Group (NMG) but suddenly disappeared – in fear of Western sanctions.

It comes amid expected sanctions on Putin’s daughters and follows imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny demanding Western action against the Kremlin’s powerful “propaganda media”.

He chose Kabaeva’s television and press group, saying it probably belonged to Putin personally. His salary has been estimated at nearly £8million a year.

Navalny posted from prison: “I want to remind you that the National Media Group, which owns the lion’s share of this apparatus of lies, is undoubtedly owned by Putin personally, and as such is even officially run by the Putin’s mistress, Alina Kabaeva.”

There was no explanation from NMG for this week after it removed Kabaeva’s name and photo, where she posed in a business jacket, with the rest of the directors section on the site, leaving a page White.

She had served as chair of the board since 2014, although she had no previous media or business experience.

Alina Kabaeva and Vladimir Putin at an event in the Kremlin. They say she is Putin’s lover

She was prominent in the board section of the National Media Group (NMG) but suddenly disappeared - amid fears of Western sanctions

She was prominent in the board section of the National Media Group (NMG) but suddenly disappeared – amid fears of Western sanctions

There was no explanation from NMG for this week after it removed Kabaeva's name and photo, where she posed in a business jacket, along with the rest of the directors section on the site.

There was no explanation from NMG for this week after it removed Kabaeva’s name and photo, where she posed in a business jacket, along with the rest of the directors section on the site.

Navalny said: “The most decisive steps must be taken to make the work of these Goebbels heirs more difficult, from the complete ban on the supply and maintenance of equipment, to the search for their assets in the West and visa blacklists.’

The power of pro-Kremlin public and private media is seen as essential to backing Putin in the war.

“Propagandists are creating a public opinion that no longer simply allows Putin to commit war crimes, but demands them of him,” Navalny said.

“Warmongers must be treated as war criminals.”

Kabaeva kept a low profile during the war, but her media spoke out in support of Putin.

She previously shrugged off the lurch towards war when she was caught in a video in December dancing in Moscow.

There has been speculation that she and her supposed secret family with the strongman of the Kremlin have been hiding either in Switzerland or in one of the many high-quality bunkers in the Urals, the Arctic or Siberia.

A petition demanding that she be expelled by the Swiss authorities collected 75,000 signatures, demanding that “it is time that you reunite Eva Braun with her Führer”.

Rumors first linked her romantically to Putin as far back as 2008, when she was a pro-Kremlin lawmaker.

The newspaper printing the story was quickly shut down.

Putin – who in 2013 announced his divorce from his wife Lyudmila, a former Aeroflot flight attendant – has previously said: “I have a private life in which I don’t allow any interference”. It must be respected.

He deplores “those who, with their snotty noses and their erotic fantasies, lurk in the lives of others”.

Kabaeva kept a low profile during the war, but her media spoke out to encourage Putin

Kabaeva kept a low profile during the war, but her media spoke out to encourage Putin

Rumors first linked her romantically to Putin as far back as 2008, when she was a pro-Kremlin lawmaker.

Rumors first linked her romantically to Putin as far back as 2008, when she was a pro-Kremlin lawmaker.

Kabaeva has publicly stated that she has met a man who “I really like”, gushing: “Sometimes you feel so happy that you are even 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 considered Russia’s most eligible woman, her only other suitor was a married Georgian policeman, according to media reports.

This relationship died out in 2005 amid complaints of tabloid intrusion into her life.

She has previously posed almost naked for Maxim and was described as “full of sex” by a photographer.

There have been numerous reports that she wore a wedding ring, but no record of marriage.

She reportedly has a fleet of Maybach limousines at her disposal and was seen surrounded by a squad of machine guns carrying security guards during visits to a Moscow cafe, likely indicating state-level security.

Many Russians saw her as the reason for the breakdown of Putin’s marriage to ex-first lady Lyudmila, 63, mother of his two adult daughters.

Once considered Russia's most eligible woman, her only other suitor was a married Georgian policeman, according to media reports

Once considered Russia’s most eligible woman, her only other suitor was a married Georgian policeman, according to media reports

The dictator of neighboring Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has hinted that Putin’s divorce decision was made because Kabaeva had “pressured the president”.

Since 2018, she has disappeared from the public eye for nearly three years on suspicion of giving birth to twins in a Moscow hospital.

The tabloid Express Gazeta said in May while she was still out of sight: ‘She literally disappeared.

“After the reports of the delivery of twins, Kabaeva was not heard from again, as if she had disappeared.

“Alina does not give interviews, attend social events, or participate in television programs.

“One can only guess what is going on in his private life.”

In her only war-related statement, Kabaeva blasted the refusal to allow the Russian team to compete in the Paralympic Games in Beijing.

“There has never been a more shameful page in the history of world sport,” she said.

“They did not worry or remove from competition any country that participated in the destruction of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

“But sports officials were very angry when Russia decided to protect Donbass and Luhansk from the Nazis.”

She complained that Olympic officials “tried so hard to humiliate the Russians, that they banned our symbols, our flag and our anthem”.

But the Russians still succeeded “thanks to the talent of our athletes.

“Russia was, is and will be a great sporting power – and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

NMG is believed to be under the sway of 70-year-old Yury Kovalchuk, a sanctioned oligarch very close to Putin.

National Media Group owns shares in a series of major Russian media, including REN TV, Channel 1, STS TV, 5th Channel, Izvestia and Sport Express, which are also subsidized by the state.

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