Vladimir Putin’s ‘girlfriend has given birth’ – Telegraph.co.uk
Putin aims at a target with a replica of the AK-47 assault rifle (Alexei Druzhinin/RIA-Novosti/AP)
Dmitry Peskov, Mr Putin’s spokesman, told Russian Forbes magazine on Friday that “information about the birth of a baby fathered by Vladimir Putin does not correspond to reality”.
Miss Kabaeva, 31, has been rumoured to be in a relationship with Mr Putin for several years, but the Kremlin has never acknowledged any link between the pair.
Putin rides a horse during his vacation outside the town of Kyzyl in Southern Siberia
In 2008, a Russian tabloid newspaper was closed down by its owner after it ran a story on the rumoured relationship.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his ex-wife Lyudmila Putina (Getty)
Friday’s unconfirmed reports about a new child were the latest in a series of rumours to circulate since Mr Putin, 62, cancelled a planned trip to Kazakhstan on Wednesday.
The cancellation raised eyebrows when a Kazakh official said the trip had been called off because Mr Putin had “fallen ill”. There were other claims that Mr Putin had lost his grip on power and that a coup was taking place.
Reporters last saw the president when he met Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, on March 5.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks at a joint press conference with Matteo Renzi (REUTERS)
Photographs of Mr Putin meeting officials one-on-one have been put on the Kremlin website since then but his gathering with a group of women for International Women’s Day on March 8 actually took place three days earlier, according to one participant.
Russian bloggers, journalists, and self-appointed “experts” suggested Mr Putin had suffered everything from a stroke to cancer diagnosis. Others speculated the president may have undergone plastic surgery.
Putin fishes in the headwaters of the Khemchik River in the Tuva region of Siberia (AP)
Mr Peskov has been forced to deny increasingly lurid stories of ill health, death, and even a coup instigated by disgruntled senior officials.
Asked again whether Mr Putin was in good health on Friday, Mr Peskov told Reuters: “Yes. We’ve already said this a hundred times. This isn’t funny any more.”
Russian state television aired undated footage of Mr Putin meeting the head of the Russian supreme court at his dacha on Friday.
Putin attempts to bend a frying pan during his visit to the summer camp of the pro-Kremlin youth group “Nashi” at Lake Seliger (Yana Lapikova/RIA Novosti)
Whether or not the Russian president is ill, the incident has highlighted serious concerns about the fragility of the vertical system of power Mr Putin has built.
With no publicly designated successor, some analysts worry that Mr Putin’s sudden illness or death could result in a ruthless struggle for control amongst the Russian elite.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rests after diving during a visit to an archeological excavation of an ancient Greek port on the Taman Peninsula in 2011
Some Russian Kremlin-watchers have suggested that the murder last month of Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader, has exacerbated a confrontation between rival camps within the Kremlin.
Mr Peskov’s denials have done little to quell a glut of Internet satire directed at the opacity of high politics in Russia, where any effort to divine what is going on behind the Kremlin’s walls is often reduced to guess work and speculation.
A portrait of Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov, is seen during a march to commemorate him in central Moscow (REUTERS)
In one comment, a Russian Internet user applied the principles of Kremlinology to conclude that “Putin cannot be dead. It is not in Putin’s interests.”
It is not the first time that questions have been asked about Mr Putin’s health.
In late 2012, he was seen limping and then cancelled or postponed a series of foreign trips leading to speculation that he was unable to withstand long flights.
Vladimir Putin sits in a motorised deltaplane near a crane at Yamalo-Nenets district in 2012
Some Russian media suggested that Mr Putin had aggravated an old back injury when he flew a motorised hang glider to guide a group of Siberian Cranes hatched in captivity toward their southern wintering grounds. But Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s prime minister, said the president, who is a judo black belt and plays ice hockey, had suffered a minor sports injury.
Putin in Siberia (ALEKSEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images)
In 2010, Mr Putin arrived at a meeting in Kiev, Ukraine, with what appeared to be a large bruise on his cheekbone, partly obscured by make-up. That spawned gossip that he had undergone a facelift or Botox injections.
However, Mr Peskov said then that the Russian leader was simply tired and the victim of “poor lighting”.