June 7, 2023

A new round of US sanctions targeting Russian elites includes a woman named in news reports as Vladimir Putin’s longtime romantic partner.

The finance ministry said on Tuesday that the government had frozen his visa Alina Kabaeva, an Olympian in her youth and a former member of the State Duma, and imposed other property restrictions. The department said he is also the head of a Russian national media company he promotes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia Kabaeva
In this Nov. 4, 2004 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with gymnast Alina Kabaeva at a banquet at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.


Critics of the Kremlin and jailed Russian rights defender Alexey Navalny are calling for sanctions against Kabaeva, saying her news agency led the way in portraying Western comments about the invasion as a disinformation campaign.

The UK imposed sanctions on Kabaeva in May and the EU imposed travel and asset restrictions on her in June.

Rumors have been circulating for years about Kabaeva’s personal relationship with the Russian leader. Russian tabloids have dubbed her the “First Mistress of Russia” and even the “Secret First Lady.”

In 2008, the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Korrespondent reported that Putin had plans to divorce his longtime wife, Lyudmila, to be with Kabaeva. The paper closed two days later. But five years later, Putin announced that he and Lyudmila had divorced.

President Vladimir Putin receives world leaders in Sochi
Russian retired rhythmic gymnast and politician Alina Kabaeva attends a reception on February 8, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

Andrey Grigoryevich Guryev, an oligarch who owns the Witanhurst estate, a 25-bedroom mansion that is the second largest property in London after Buckingham Palace, is also named in the latest Treasury sanctions package.

His $120 million yacht, the Alfa Nero, was also identified as foreclosed property. Sanctions were also imposed on his son Andrey Andreevich Guryev and his son’s Russian investment company Dzhi AI Invest OOO.

Viktor Filippovich Rashnikov, one of Russia’s biggest taxpayers, and two subsidiaries of his MMK, which is among the world’s biggest steel producers, were also sanctioned, Agence France-Presse reported.

“As innocent people suffer under Russia’s illegal war of aggression, Putin’s allies have enriched and funded lavish lifestyles,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.

“Along with our allies, the United States will also continue to choke off the revenue and equipment that supports Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine.”

The State Department also imposed additional visa restrictions and other sanctions.

In April, the The US has imposed sanctions on Putin’s adult daughters Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova and Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova.

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