Vladimir Putin’s purported lover has been hit with sanctions from the US government’s treasury department over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Alina Kabaeva, 39, landed on the latest update to the federal Office of Foreign Assets Control’s specially designated nationals list, freezing any of her assets in the US and generally prohibiting Americans from dealing with her.
The move came a little more than three months after the White House said Kabaeva, a famed former rhythmic gymnast, nor anyone else was safe from sanctions, even after her last-minute removal from a round of such penalties in April.
United Kingdom officials had similarly sanctioned Kabaeva – who is now chairperson of Russia’s New Media Group, the country’s largest private media company – in May.
Western countries have levied economic penalties at associates and loved ones of Putin to punish the Russian president, 69, for his decision to invade Ukraine in February. The US has avoided a direct confrontation with Russia over the invasion, though it has provided billions of dollars in weapons and other resources to help Ukraine.
The Kremlin has long denied that Putin, who is divorced, is romantically involved with Kabaeva, but various published reports suggest that she is the mother of at least some of his children. A Moscow newspaper which, in 2008, reported that Putin and Kabaeva were involved despite his still being married at the time was shut down soon after for unclear reasons.
Kabaeva, who is originally from Uzbekistan, won gold in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. She later spent more than six years as a lawmaker in Putin’s United Russia party before taking over the National Media Group in 2014, with her only prior experience in the company’s industry being her hosting of a TV talkshow.