The United States has handed out more sanctions against more of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s allies, including his reported romantic partner, as part of the latest raft of penalties targeting Kremlin-linked officials and entities in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Alina Kabaeva, 39, was among 13 Russian nationals added to the Treasury Department’s sanctions list. Kabaeva first rose to fame as a star gymnast, winning two Olympic gold medals. Recently she has become better-known as the 69-year-old Russian leader’s rumored girlfriend.
The announcement of new sanctions on Tuesday cited Kabaeva’s “close relationship to Putin.” It did not specifically say it was romantic. But the U.S. government holds that Kabaeva is the mother of at least three of Putin’s children.
In addition to being his reported girlfriend and mother of his children, Kabaeva has also served as a lawmaker for Putin’s party in the State Duma, and currently heads the pro-Kremlin National Media Group, which operates a network of TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers in Russia.
The U.S. had previously prepared a sanctions package against her before making a last-minute decision in late April to hold off in order to avoid hurting prospects for a negotiated peace in Ukraine. She is already under European Union and United Kingdom sanctions.
“As innocent people suffer from Russia’s illegal war of aggression, Putin’s allies have enriched themselves and funded opulent lifestyles,” Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said in a news release about the latest sanctions.
“The Treasury Department will use every tool at our disposal to make sure that Russian elites and the Kremlin’s enablers are held accountable for their complicity in a war that has cost countless lives.”
The Kremlin has denied the alleged relationship. A Russian newspaper that published an article in 2008 saying Putin and Kabaeva were romantically involved was quickly shut down under mysterious circumstances.
Putin and his wife of 30 years, Lyudmila Putina, divorced in 2014.