Sergei Chirikov/AFP through Getty Photographs
The U.S. has introduced sanctions towards the previous Olympic gymnast who’s long-rumored to be the romantic associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin — including the individual referred to as “Russia’s most versatile girl” to the rising listing of people to face monetary penalties in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Alina Kabaeva, 39, has been romantically linked to Putin, 69, for greater than a decade and is assumed to have had at the very least three kids with him. In asserting sanctions towards her on Tuesday, the Treasury Division mentioned “Kabaeva has an in depth relationship to Putin” and that she was being focused as a part of an effort to “impose extreme prices for many who assist President Vladimir Putin’s conflict.”
Attila Kisbenedek/AFP through Getty Photographs
“As harmless individuals endure from Russia’s unlawful conflict of aggression, Putin’s allies have enriched themselves and funded opulent existence,” mentioned Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in an announcement. “The Treasury Division will use each instrument at our disposal to guarantee that Russian elites and the Kremlin’s enablers are held accountable for his or her complicity in a conflict that has price numerous lives.”
Whereas the Kremlin has lengthy denied any relationship between Kabaeva and Putin, rumors of their partnership date again greater than a decade. Here is a few of what we find out about them.
She was a gymnastics star, however was as soon as banned for doping
Kabaeva is among the most adorned rhythmic gymnasts in Russian historical past. She took up the game on the age of 4 and would ultimately go on to win 21 European Championship medals, 14 World Championship medals and two Olympic medals, together with a gold on the 2004 Video games in Athens. Her signature transfer, referred to as the “Kabaeva,” helped her earn the nickname “Russia’s most versatile girl.”
Her profession was not with out controversy, although. In 2001, she examined optimistic on the Goodwill Video games in Australia for the banned substance furosemide — a diuretic generally utilized by athletes to drop a few pounds or to cover the usage of different medicine. She denied doping and mentioned the substance got here from a tainted capsule she purchased at a neighborhood pharmacy. Nonetheless, she was briefly banned from competitors and compelled to return her medals from the 2001 World Championship in Madrid.
She went into politics, then the media enterprise
Kabaeva retired from skilled gymnastics round 2007 and determined to enter politics. She was chosen for a seat within the decrease home of parliament, the place she served as a member of Putin’s United Russia occasion. In parliament, she was a number one advocate for a legislation that disadvantaged many Russian orphans the chance to be adopted overseas.
In 2014, she left politics to function chairwoman of Russia’s New Media Group, which the U.S. describes as “a pro-Kremlin empire of tv, radio, and print organizations.” For months, Kremlin critics have accused the group of framing Western commentary on the Ukraine invasion as a disinformation marketing campaign. She was appointed to the job regardless of restricted expertise within the business past internet hosting a TV discuss present.
Putin and Kabaeva don’t focus on the connection
Kabaeva has denied a relationship with Putin, and Putin has equally by no means acknowledged any such partnership. In 2008, the famously personal Russian president was requested about Kabaeva throughout a information convention in Italy with Silvio Berlusconi, then the nation’s prime minister-elect.
“I’m, after all, conscious of the cliché that politicians stay in glass homes, however even in these instances, there should be some limits,” Putin mentioned whereas dismissing the rumors. “I all the time disliked individuals who go round with their erotic fantasies, sticking their snot-ridden noses into one other individual’s life,” he continued.
Berlusconi, standing subsequent to Putin, then mimed taking pictures the reporter who requested the query with an imaginary machine gun.
AFP through Getty Photographs
The query got here simply days after The Moskovsky Korrespondent, a Russian tabloid owned by a former Soviet intelligence officer, reported that Putin deliberate to marry Kabaeva. The paper was quickly suspended “for monetary causes” and by no means resumed operation.
The sanctions might not have a lot impact
Kabaeva is simply the most recent particular person in Putin’s orbit to face sanctions in retaliation for the conflict in Ukraine. Because the launch of the Russian invasion in February, the U.S. has introduced sanctions towards a variety of Russian banks and companies, Putin associates and even two of his grownup daughters.
However at this level within the conflict, it is unclear how far sanctions towards anyone particular person will go to discourage Putin, says Rachel Ziemba, an adjunct senior fellow on the Heart for a New American Safety. Ziemba says there’s little to recommend Kabaeva even has monetary belongings within the U.S., and within the aftermath of comparable sanctions towards her by each the U.Okay. and European Union, she has seemingly “ready for the danger” of penalty by the U.S.
“The concept is that by focusing on individuals near Putin himself, that it’ll make his life and people near him harder, which could result in them to form of change coverage,” Ziemba mentioned. “The ship has most likely sailed on that one.”