A new round of U.S. sanctions targeting Russian elites includes a woman named in news reports as Vladimir Putin’s longtime romantic partner.
The Treasury Department said Tuesday that the government has frozen the visa of Alina Kabaeva, an Olympic gymnast in her youth and former member of the state Duma, and imposed other property restrictions. The department said she is also head of a Russian national media company that promotes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In this November 4, 2004 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with gymnast Alina Kabaeva at a Kremlin banquet in Moscow, Russia.
Critics of the Kremlin and imprisoned Russian rights campaigner Alexey Navalny have been calling for sanctions against Kabaeva, saying her news outlet took the lead in portraying Western commentary on the invasion as a disinformation campaign.
The U.K. sanctioned Kabaeva in May and the EU imposed travel and asset restrictions on her in June.
Rumors have circulated for years about Kabaeva’s personal relationship with the Russian leader. Russian tabloids have dubbed her “Russia’s First Mistress” and even the “Secret First Lady.”
In 2008, Russian newspaper Moskovsky Korrespondent reported that Putin had plans to divorce his longtime wife, Lyudmila, to be with Kabaeva. The paper was shut down two days later. But five years later, Putin announced that he and Lyudmila had separated.
Russian retired rhythmic gymnast and politician Alina Kabaeva attends a reception at on February 8, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
Sasha Mordovets / Getty Images
Also named in Treasury’s latest sanctions package is Andrey Grigoryevich Guryev, an oligarch who owns the Witanhurst estate, a 25-bedroom mansion that is the second-largest estate in London after Buckingham Palace.
His $120 million yacht, the Alfa Nero, was also identified as blocked property. Also sanctioned was his son Andrey Andreevich Guryev and his son’s Russian investment firm Dzhi AI Invest OOO.
Viktor Filippovich Rashnikov, one of Russia’s largest taxpayers, and two subsidiaries of his MMK, which is among the world’s largest steel producers, also were slapped with sanctions, AFP reported.
“As innocent people suffer from Russia’s illegal war of aggression, Putin’s allies have enriched themselves and funded opulent lifestyles,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.
“Together with our allies, the United States will also continue to choke off revenue and equipment underpinning Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine.”
The State Department also imposed additional visa restrictions and other sanctions.
In April, the U.S. imposed sanctions on Putin’s adult daughters Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova and Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova.