Russia's Putin is divorced and plans to marry ex-gymnast
(dpa) - A
Russian tabloid broke taboo by reporting Russia's president Vladimir Putin had
divorced his wife Lyudimilla and plans to wed 24-year-old former Olympic
gymnast Alina Kabayeva.
The Kremlin Tuesday refused to comment on the article which was posted on the daily's Moskovsky Korrespondent website on Friday.
The article cited a source close to event planning firm Art-management in Putin's native St. Petersburg, saying the company was competing for the right to host the wedding.
Compared to most other world leaders, very little is known about the personal life of the 55-year-old ex-KGB agent, who succeeded Boris Yeltsin eight years ago practically unknown in the west.
Russian's First Lady, Lyudimilla, is rarely in the limelight and the couple's two daughters, Masha and Katya, live under pseudonyms and are closely guarded.
But the newspaper reported that Putin had divorced two months ago. It speculated that he was planning a June wedding, timed after he steps down as president in May.
Putin said Tuesday he would head Russia's dominant party and reaffirmed intentions to become prime minister after ceding office.
Visitors to the popular Russian website LiveJournal.ru called the report a belated April fools Tuesday.
Rhythmic gymnastic champion Kabayeva was elected to Russia's Duma last year as a delegate for Putin's favourite party, United Russia. Her coach Irina Viner is married billionaire metals and media tycoon Alisher Usmanov.
The curvaceous gymnast has been pictured semi-naked draped in furs, in shots that recall pictures sold this month of France's new First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.
Nicholas Sarkozy's love affair with the former supermodel saw the culmination of a to debate in the conservative French press about where to draw the line writing about politicians private lives.
Russia itself seemed to experience a perestroika over the taboo subject last summer when bare-chested pictures of Putin fishing in Siberia caused a flurry of excitement.