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Russia's Putin and Wife Announce Split

  • James Brooke

After much speculation over the past years, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila have said their 30-year marriage is over. The couple made their split public on Russian state television after attending a ballet performance.

She was rarely seen in public in recent years, but Lyudmila was at her husband's side when he announced they are no longer living together.

"Yes, it's true. All my activities, all my work is very public. Some people like it. Some don't. But there are people who are absolutely incompatible with that. Lyudmila Alexandrovna has been on duty for the last eight or nine years, already. So that is a mutual decision," said Putin.

Mrs. Putin is known to dislike publicity, and her absence prompted speculation in the Russian media. While neither clarified whether or not their marriage has been legally dissolved, she referred to the separation as a "civilized divorce."

During Putin's first presidential term between 2000 and 2004, he took his wife on several foreign trips. But by his second term, he was traveling solo.

By 2008, rumors that he was about to divorce his wife also claimed he would marry the former competitive gymnast Alina Kabayeva. Mr. Putin publicly denied it.

On the streets of Moscow, people were not surprised at the news:

“I think as long as it doesn’t influence how our president takes care of the issues that affect our citizens, so let it be. Let him be happy,” said Marina, a school teacher.

“It’s his private life and he has the right to do with it what he wants. Maybe we can say that he destroyed his wife’s destiny, but Vladimir Vladimirovich is also a person, and he also must live his life. He did what he thought was right. That’s my opinion,” said Denis Nazorov, a biologist.

The Putins married in 1983 and have two daughters, both in their twenties, who are rarely seen in public. The announcement comes 13 months into Mr. Putin's third presidential term.