The latest round of US sanctions against Russia has drawn fresh scrutiny over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s family life, revealed two new goals: Katerina and Maria, his eldest daughter.
Despite Putin’s dominance in Russian politics, he rarely talks about his family and very little is known about his personal life and children.
Katerina and Maria have never publicly confirmed the Russian leader as their father. Putin’s marriage to their mother Lyudmila, who was a member of the cabin crew with the national airline Aeroflot, ended in divorce in 2013.
The US says Katerina Tikhonova, 35, is a technology executive whose job is to support the Russian government and its defense industry. Her 36-year-old sister, Maria Vorontsova, leads government-funded programs that have received billions of dollars from the Kremlin for genetic research and are overseen by Putin himself.
A senior US official said Washington believes “Putin’s assets are hidden from family members”.
According to the Kremlin website, Maria was born in 1985 and Katerina a year later after the family moved to Dresden, then to East Germany, where Putin was a KGB agent.
Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy, co-authors of Who Is Mr. Putin? For example, his wife, daughter and other family members are clearly absent from the public sphere”.
Katerina is best known – on YouTube at least – as an acrobatic rock ‘n’ roll dancer, where videos show her performing grueling routines that include somersaults and somersaults at various venues. major international competition.
But a Reuters news agency investigation from 2015 exposed her in a rather different light, highlighting her connections and influence with Moscow’s elite.
The report said Katerina, now deputy director of the Institute of Mathematical Research of Complex Systems at Moscow State University, described herself at the time as the “spouse” of Kirill Shamalov’s son, Kirill Shamalov. of Nikolai Shamalov, a longtime friend of Putin who is also a shareholder in Bank Rossiya. The report estimated the couple’s corporate assets to be worth around $2 billion, in addition to other assets and assets. Kirill was below punishment.
Maria, meanwhile, studied biology at St Petersburg University and medicine at Moscow State University, and was heavily involved in genetic research work.
Reports in Russian and Western media say she is married to a Dutch businessman and lived in the Netherlands for a time.
The Reuters report notes that while Maria specializes in the endocrine system, her husband used to work for Gazprombank, a lending company with close ties to the Kremlin elite. Leonid Volkov, chief strategist for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, said the marriage was over.
Navalny has long worked to expose Putin’s wealth, and Volkov said the latest sanctions are welcome.
“It’s a very important symbolic move,” he said, given the severity of the situation in Ukraine. “It’s a very important symbolic move that means we are going after Putin personally, we recognize his great personal guilt in starting this bloody war.”
The extent of Putin’s wealth is a sensitive topic in Russia.
The Kremlin last year denied that he was the owner of a Luxury palace on the Black Seaas Navalny alleges in a viral YouTube video.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in February said the sanctions were related to “absurd claims” about some of Putin’s assets.
“The president has no assets other than those that he has declared,” Peskov said.
During a press conference in 2019, Putin declined to directly answer a question about his daughters’ growing business influence and their relationship with the government. He called Vorontsova and Tikhonova “women”, never admitting they were his children.
“I’m proud of them. They continue to study and work,” Putin said at a press conference a few years earlier.
“They are not involved in any business and they are not involved in politics. They are not trying to push their way anywhere,” he added.
In an interview in 2020, Putin said he did not want to share any information about his family because of “security concerns”.
He has revealed that he has grandchildren, but did not specify how many.
“I have a niece, I am happy. They are very good, very sweet. I really enjoy spending time with them.”
Navalny’s group is also urging sanctions against Alina Kabaeva, a former gymnast and congressman, who they say is Putin’s second wife and the mother of his two youngest children. She is also the chairman of the State Media Corporation, Russia’s largest media group.