Friday, April 18, 2008

Vladimir Putin denied marrying Olympic gymnast

Russian President Vladimir Putin denied media reports today he was about to marry Russian Olympic gymnast Alina Kabayeva (see pic below), who is also a member of Russian Parliament. News media and Internet sites had been abuzz with rumours that Mr. Putin had secretly divorced his wife, Lyudmila, and planned to marry the 24-year-old Olympic gymnast.

"In what you said, there is not one word of truth," Mr. Putin said when asked about the reports by a journalist at a news briefing with Italy's Prime Minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi.

"Personally, I think Russian women are the most beautiful and the most talented and the Italians are the only ones who can match them," Putin added to applause from journalists present.

Putin said society had a right to known about the lifestyle of public figures, but warned, "There are limits."

"There is a private life in which no one should interfere -- I've always had a low opinion of those with snotty noses and erotic fantasies who delve into the lives of others."

A Russian newspaper, "The Moskovski Korresondent", set the rumours ablaze by quoting a wedding party planner in St. Petersburg who claimed to be bidding to organize the couple's lavish wedding reception.

It also reported that the couple planned to marry in mid-June, a month after he steps down as Russian president. Mr. Putin has not officially announced any separation from his 50-year-old wife. Some reports say that the Russian president, known for keeping his private life out of the spotlight, is separated from his wife two months ago.

Read more about Alina Kabayeva

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