Alina Kabaeva: Vladimir Putin’s rumoured lover sanctioned by US over Ukraine invasion

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Former Olympic gymnast and Russian president Vladimir Putin's rumoured girlfriend Alina Kabaeva was hit by a fresh bout of sanctions by the US amid the ongoing Ukraine invasion.

The US treasury department in a statement said it has frozen the visa of Ms Kabaeva and imposed other property restrictions.

The department said she heads the National Media Group, a pro-Moscow media organisation that promotes Russia’s months-long invasion of Ukraine.

Although it has been claimed that the 39-year-old former Russian Vogue cover model and two-time Olympic medalist is in a romantic relationship with the Russian president, Mr Putin has never publically acknowledged their relationship.

Kremlin critics have been calling on the US to impose sanctions against Ms Kabaeva over her news outlet's portrayal of western commentary on the invasion as a disinformation campaign.

She was earlier sanctioned by the UK in May and the EU imposed travel and asset restrictions on her in June.

In 2008, Russian newspaper Moskovsky Korrespondent reported that Mr Putin had secretly divorced his wife Lyudmila and become engaged to the then 24-year-old gymnast.

The media outlet was shut down just hours after a journalist asked Mr Putin about his secret engagement at a news conference.

In their latest round of sanctions, the US also targetted Publichnoe Aktsionernoe Obschestvo Magnitogorskiy Metallurgicheskiy Kombinat (MMK), one of the world's largest steel producers, as well as the chairman of the board of directors, Viktor Rashnikov.

A crane lifts the corpse of a man from a mass grave to be identified in a morgue in Bucha (AP)
A crane lifts the corpse of a man from a mass grave to be identified in a morgue in Bucha (AP)

The Treasury department also sanctioned Andrey Grigoryevich Guryev, a Russian oligarch who owns the Witanhurst estate – a 25-bedroom mansion that is the second-largest estate in London. His $120m yacht – the Alfa Nero – was also identified as blocked property.

His son Andrey Andreevich Guryev and his Russian investment firm also made it to the sanction list.

“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 on Tuesday said it was placing visa restrictions on 893 Russian officials and members of the military for playing a part in Moscow’s aggression. The list also added 31 officials from unnamed nations over support for Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The department was also imposing sanctions on 24 Russian defence and technology companies in an effort to “further isolate Russia’s defence and high-technology industries and limit their contributions to Moscow’s war machine,” US secretary of state Antony Blinken said.

The US also targeted three Russian businessmen for being “Putin enablers”.

“The US will not waver in its support for the brave people of Ukraine and will continue to promote accountability for president Putin and his cronies whose actions have caused so much suffering and destruction in Ukraine,” Mr Blinken said.

Mr Putin’s adult daughters Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova and Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova were sanctioned by the US in April.