Putin's 'lover' praises Russia's military in latest public appearance

Putin’s ‘lover’ praises Russia’s military and appears to liken Ukraine invasion to victory over WWII Nazis in new public appearance at her lavish gymnastics event in Moscow

  • Alina Kabaeva, 38, stepped out to lead her eponymous ‘Alina Festival’ in Moscow
  • Saturday’s event marked a rare public appearance for the former gymnast
  • Kabaeva is widely believed to be the longtime mistress of Vladimir Putin, 69
  • The gymnastics event was wildly patriotic, with a military choir and constant flashes of the infamous ‘Z’ symbol synonymous with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

A Russian Olympic gymnast widely believed to be the mistress of Russian President Vladimir Putin has emerged to lead a patriotic rhythmic gymnastics festival in Moscow.

Alina Kabaeva, 38, stepped out to lead her annual ‘Alina Festival’ at the Russian capital’s VTB Arena, putting paid to rumours she was hiding in Switzerland or a bunker in Siberia.

It marked a rare public appearance for the former gymnast, who is thought to be the Russian strongman’s mistress and mother of four of his children whom he has never officially recognised. 

She appeared onstage alongside hundreds of young children at the strongly patriotic event which featured a military choir and the infamous Russian ‘Z’ symbol which has become synonymous with the war in Ukraine. 

Her eponymous festival included some of the Soviet Union’s most patriotic songs in a celebration of the country’s victory over the Nazis, but the theme was unmistakably intended to boost support for Putin’s ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine.

The full show will be broadcast on May 8, the eve of a vast Red Square military parade commemorating ‘Victory Day’, the end of the Second World War.

Alina Kabaeva, 38, stepped out to lead her eponymous ‘Alina Festival’ at the Russian capital’s VTB Arena, putting paid to rumours she was hiding in Switzerland or a bunker in Siberia. She appeared onstage alongside hundreds of young children at the strongly patriotic event which featured a military choir and the infamous Russian ‘Z’ symbol (pictured) which has become synonymous with the war in Ukraine

Alina Kabaeva pictured alongside child gymnasts at her patriotic-themed rhythmic gymnastics festival Alina 2022 at the VTB Arena, Moscow, this past weekend

It marked a rare public appearance for the former gymnast (bottom left with microphone), who is thought to be the Russian strongman’s mistress and mother of four of his children whom he has never officially recognised

Alina Kabaeva and Vladimir Putin have been pictured together on several occasions over the years, and the Olympic gymnast has long been thought to be the Russian President’s mistress

Wearing a patriotic St George’s ribbon on her chest, Kabaeva delivered a rousing speech seemingly linking victory over Nazism in the Second World War to today’s events in Ukraine. 

‘This theme, you see, this story, doesn’t only go into the past. It stays with us,’ she said.

‘This celebration is not just for the whole country, this is a holiday for every family.

‘Every family has a war story, and we mustn’t ever forget it, but pass it on from generation to generation.’

Child gymnasts of varying ages were dressed in a wartime uniforms at the show and performed a choreographed routine which re-enacted the Soviet victory in World War II alongside a military choir.

Putin, 69, is expected to use Victory Day – May 9 – to claim some kind of victory from his war in Ukraine, despite a Russian death toll that is thought to exceed 20,000.

The performances at the Alina Festival are expected to be broadcast across state TV on the eve of Victory Day.

Unlike two of Putin’s adult daughters – Maria and Katerina – Kabaeva has avoided Western sanctions thus far.

The former gymnast is also a media mogul, controlling a significant segment of the pro-Kremlin Moscow media on an estimated salary of almost £8million per year. 

Jailed Putin foe Alexei Navalny has demanded sanctions against her, arguing Kabaeva’s National Media Group is likely owned and funded by the Russian President and his oligarchs.

Pictures of Kabaeva (centre left) at the event in Moscow sparked speculation that the former gymnast had used the same cosmetic surgeon as Putin amid claims of botox and fillers

A young Alina Kabaeva shakes hands with Vladimir Putin during a meeting with other gymnasts in the  Kremlin

Olympic gold-medallist Alina Kabaeva, 38, (right) resurfaced at a junior rhythmic gymnastics rehearsal in Moscow’s VTB Arena last week ahead of the Alina Festival on Saturday

Kabaeva (R) reportedly dodged sanctions at the request of the U.S. National Security Council, over fears targeting her would be seen as a ‘personal attack’ on Putin (L)

Navalny recently posted from jail: ‘I want to remind you that the National Media Group, which owns the lion’s share of this apparatus of lies, undoubtedly belongs to Putin personally, and as such is even formally headed by Putin’s mistress Alina Kabaeva.’

He called for her as a Putin propagandist to be treated as a ‘war criminal’.

It comes as the Wall Street Journal reported that Kabaeva dodged sanctions at the request of the U.S. National Security Council, over fears targeting her would be seen as a ‘personal attack’ on Putin.

Kabaeva was in the sights of the US Treasury Department in the wake of her rumored lover’s invasion of Ukraine in February, but officials in Washington believed sanctioning her could escalate tensions between Russia and the West.

Meanwhile, pictures of Kabaeva which surfaced last week during rehearsals for the Alina Festival sparked speculation that the former gymnast had used the same cosmetic surgeon as Putin amid claims of botox and fillers.

‘Something has really changed in Kabaeva’s face… the legendary athlete was noticeably prettier,’ wrote the Russian Cosmopolitan.

Avoiding linking her to Putin so as not to be censored by the Russian state, the magazine said: ‘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 choosing its words carefully to avoid the Russian censor – 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.’

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