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Putin's rumoured mistress seen in public for first time since Ukraine invasion began

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Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) smiles next to Russian gymnast Alina Kabaeva during a meeting with the Russian Olympic team at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on November 4, 2004.
  • Putin's rumoured mistress Alina Kabaeva was seen in public for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine.
  • Kabaeva, a former Olympic gymnast, was pictured at an event at Moscow's VTB Arena.
  • The gymnast was reported to have taken refuge in Switzerland amid the war in Ukraine.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's rumoured mistress has appeared in public for the first time since the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Alina Kabaeva, 38, a former Olympic gymnast, was pictured at an event at Moscow's VTB Arena on Thursday in photos posted on Instagram by Ekaterina Sirotina, the head coach of Russia's junior national rhythmic gymnastics team.

"First rehearsal day of the #Festival of Alina Kabaeva," Sirotina captioned the series of images.

Kabaeva is widely believed to be Putin's mistress and mothered several secret children with the Russian leader, including twins.

Putin is famously private about his personal relationships and children, and has never confirmed his rumored relationship with Kabaeva.

Russian world champion Alina Kabaeva performs with the ball during the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Madrid October 20, 2001.

The gymnast had reportedly taken refuge in a luxury chalet in Switzerland with her children as Russia's invasion of Ukraine began, per Page Six.

Kabaeva rarely makes public appearances, and was last seen in public also at the VTB arena in December 2021, Newsweek said.

The new photos of Kabaeva prompted speculation that the gymnast might have recently altered her appearance with plastic surgery.

Russian Cosmopolitan said "something has really changed in Kabaeva's face," according to Newsweek.

Kabaeva was first romantically linked to the Russian leader in 2008 in a report by the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Korrespondent.

The paper was shut down days after reporting that Putin planned to divorce his then-wife Lyudmila Putina for the gymnast.

Once dubbed "Russia's most flexible woman," Kabaeva has won two Olympic medals, 14 World Championship medals, and 21 European Championship medals.

Kabaeva went on to become a pro-Kremlin member of Russia's parliament for several years and in 2014 was appointed to the board of the state-owned National Media Group, with a reported salary of $10.5 million a year, according to Page Six.

Georgy Alburov, who works for jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, has called for Kabaeva to be sanctioned amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

"She is the beneficiary of Putin's corruption - her relatives get apartments and houses bought with money stolen from Russians," he wrote on Twitter.

"She is a member of Putin's inner circle, a member of his family who takes advantage of his position."

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