Vladimir Putin’s “lover” headlined a spectacular patriotic-themed gymnastics ballet festival after making his first public appearance in Ukraine in recent days since the start of the war.
Olympic gold medalist Alina Kabaeva, 38, is seen on video performing with a uniformed military choir.
The event featured some of the Soviet Union’s most patriotic songs celebrating the country’s victory over the Nazis – but also the “Z” symbol, which critics compared to a Russian swastika invented for the war in Ukraine.
The full show will air on May 8, the eve of a huge military parade in Red Square to commemorate “Victory Day,” the end of World War II.
But the theme of their annual Alina festival was unmistakably designed to bolster patriotic support for Putin’s military adventure in Ukraine.
Kabaeva’s reappearance comes after rumors that she hid in a Swiss chalet or a Siberian nuclear bunker after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine began.
Wearing a patriotic ribbon of St. George across her chest and wearing a bright pink dress, she linked victory in World War II to today’s events.
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Social Media/East2West News)
She said: “This issue, you see, this story is not just about the past. She stays with us.”
Her words jibe with Putin’s odd claim – denounced in the West – that his modern war was against “Nazis” who rule Ukraine, just as World War II, known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War, was designed to defeat Hitler’s Nazis.
“This celebration is not only for the whole country, this is a holiday for every family,” Kabaeva said.
“Every family has a war story. And we must never forget it, but pass it on from generation to generation.”
Actresses of different ages wore wartime uniforms on the show.
Some represented Russia, others – with whom Kabaeva posed – Belarus. Others even dressed to represent Ukrainians in a quirky performance to recreate the Soviet victory.
Kremlin.ru/ East2west News)
The 69-year-old Putin is expected to use “Victory Day” on May 9 to claim some sort of victory from his chaotic war in Ukraine, despite a Russian death toll that could now surpass 30,000.
Russian media has continued to obsess over Kabaeva’s new look since he first emerged since December.
Avoiding associating her with Putin, the Russian cosmopolitan said of a woman widely believed to be Russia’s unofficial first lady: “Alina Kabaeva is one of the most mysterious and secretive women in our country.
“The gymnast almost never performs in public, doesn’t she [appear in] social networks and it is not possible to accidentally see them on the street or in shopping malls.”
Unlike two of Putin’s adult daughters – Maria and Katerina – media mogul Kabaeva, who controls a significant portion of Moscow’s pro-Kremlin media, has avoided Western sanctions.
But the imprisoned Putin enemy Alexei Navalny has called for sanctions against them.
Kremlin.ru/ East2west News)
He singled out Kabaeva’s National Media Group, arguing that it probably belonged to Putin personally.
Her salary has been estimated at nearly £8million a year, compared to the average annual figure of £5,600.
Navalny posted from prison: “I would like 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 formally headed by Putin’s mistress Alina Kabaeva.”
He called for her to be treated as a “war criminal” as a Putin propagandist.
Kabaeva has kept a low profile in the Ukraine war – but her media has loudly cheered for Putin.
She previously ignored the backlash toward war when she was caught on video dancing in Moscow in December, her last public appearance before this week.
Social Media/East2West News)
It has been speculated that she and her supposedly secret young family with Putin were hiding out from the war either in Switzerland or in one of several high-grade bunkers in the Urals, Arctic or Siberia.
A petition calling for her ejection by Swiss authorities gathered 75,000 signatures and demanded that “it is time to reunite Eva Braun with her leader”.
Rumors first linked her romantically with Putin in 2008, when she was a pro-Kremlin MP.
The newspaper that printed 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 personal life in which I will not allow interference. It has to be respected.”
He pityed “those who sneak into the lives of others with their snotty noses and erotic fantasies”.
Kabaeva is on record that she met a man who “I love very much.”
She added, “Sometimes you’re so happy you’re even scared.”
In 2001, Kabaeva was temporarily banned from participating in rhythmic gymnastics after failing a doping test.
A year earlier she had won gold at the 2000 Summer Olympics.
According to media reports, her only other suitor was a married Georgian policeman who was once considered Russia’s most desirable woman.
That relationship ended in 2005 due to complaints about tabloids invading her life.
She once posed almost naked for Maxim and was described as “full of sex” by a photographer.
There were many reports of her wearing a wedding ring, but no record of a marriage.
She is said to have a fleet of Maybach limousines at her disposal and has been spotted surrounded by a group of machine-gunned security guards on visits to a Moscow cafe, likely indicating that she is qualified for state-level security.
Many Russians saw her as the reason for the collapse of Putin’s marriage to ex-first lady Lyudmila, 63, mother of his two adult daughters.
The dictator of neighboring Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has suggested that Putin’s divorce decision came about because Kabaeva “put pressure on the president.”
As of 2018, she disappeared from public view for almost three years because she was suspected of having given birth to twins in a Moscow hospital.
The tabloid Express Gazeta reported in May last year – while she was still out of sight – that she had “literally disappeared”.
Ekaterina Sirotina/east2west news)
The publication added: “After the reports of the birth of twins, nothing was heard about Kabaeva, as if she disappeared.
“Alina does not give interviews, nor does she take part in social events, nor does she take part in any television programs.
“One can only guess what is happening in her private life.”
In her only statement related to the war, Kabaeva criticized the refusal to allow the Russian team to compete in the Paralympics in Beijing.
“There has never been a more shameful page in the history of world sport,” she said.
“They have not worried and have not eliminated any country involved in the extermination of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
AFP via Getty Images)
“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, banned our symbols, flag and anthem.”
But the Russians were still successful, “because of the talent of our athletes. Russia was, is and will be a great sporting power – and you can’t do anything about it.”
NMG is ruled by Yury Kovalchuk, 70, a sanctioned oligarch who is very close to Putin.
The group owns shares in a number of major Russian channels, including REN TV, Channel 1, STS TV, 5th Channel, Izvestia and Sport Express, which are also subsidized by the state.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/putins-lover-appears-patriotic-gymnastics-26787716 Vladimir Putin's mistress makes rare appearance at bizarre festival with spooky 'Z' symbol - World News