For months, the rumors of the possible romance of President Vladimir Putin with Alina Kabaeva have been quietly circulating around Moscow. Rumors that have remained unpublished until yesterday.
Last week, the Moskovski Korrespondent dared to report that there was a romance, that Putin had already divorced his wife Ludmilla in secret, and that Putin plans to marry Kabaeva.
Today, there is no Russian newspaper named Moskovski Korrespondent.
The paper admitted there was no factual basis for its claim that Putin had already divorced Ludmilla, 50, his wife of 24 years, and would marry Kabaeva in June, shortly after standing down as president and becoming prime minister. It cited information from a party planner who claimed to be bidding to organise the lavish reception.
Both Putin and Kabaeva denied the report, which was followed up by European newspapers but ignored by Russia’s media, which do not delve into the private lives of politicians.
Editor Grigori Nekhoroshev was forced to resign his position, stating that he thought they should break the taboo and run the story. Russian billionaire tycoon Alexander Lebedev ceased publication of the paper immediately, the parent company blaming "costs and conceptual disagreements with the newsroom" but denying that there was any political motivation in the decision to shut down the newspaper.
Many Russians believe otherwise. Putin discounted the article and condemned the paper as tabloid journalism. Kabaeva threatened to sue. Putin, during his presidency, brought control of all Russian television under control of the Kremlin and has been highly sensitive of criticism from the print media.
So much for the much vaunted freedoms of the Russian Federation...
Once and Always, an American Fighting Man