A Swiss newspaper claims to know why the Russian president hasn't been seen in public lately- that his alleged girlfriend has given birth to the couple's third child. The Kremlin immediately denied the rumor as a "hoax."
Rumors about the absence of Russian President Vladimir Putin from the public view went into overdrive on Friday as the Kremlin released new footage of Putin and also announced that he will meet the president of Kyrgyzstan on Monday.
Yesterday, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov fended off suggestions that the president has been out of the spotlight due to illness, something he dismissed by saying "no need to worry, everything is all right," and joking that the president's handshake was still so strong it could "break you hand."
The president has not been seen in public since a March 5 meeting with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Putin becomes a father for the fifth time?
Now, the Blick newspaper, Switzerland's oldest tabloid, is alleging that Putin has been out of sight not because of his own ill health - but because his supposed girlfriend, former Olympic rhythmic gymnast and current chairwoman of the National Media Group, Alina Kabaeva (pictured above in 2008), gave birth to the couple's daughter in Ticino, the Italian-speaking region in the south of Switzerland.
The Blick report says many cars with Russian license plates have been seen outside a regional hospital in the past few days, and that Putin is friends with a gynecologist who works there. It further claims that this is actually Putin and Kabaeva's third child- following a son in 2009 and another daughter in 2012. Putin already has two daughters with his ex-wife, though little is known about them and the Kremlin has never published a family portrait.
Kremlin spokesman Peskov was quick to dismiss the rumors, saying that its "not true" and referred to the story as a "hoax," French news agency AFP reported.
This is not the first time Putin and Kabaeva have been linked. In 2008, Russian media announced that the two were engaged to be married, despite Putin still being married to his now ex-wife Lyudmila Shkrebneva. Putin denied it as "nonsense."
Rumors swirled about a wedding again in 2013, after Putin was divorced. The official Kremlin comment at that time was any talk of a wedding was a private matter for President Putin to announce.
The footage of the president released by the Kremlin on Friday was shown on state television. It depicts Putin meeting with the head of the Russian Supreme Court at Putin's residence outside Moscow. The Kremlin did not say what day the meeting took place, according to the Associated Press.