Vladimir Putin — faced with a military crisis in Ukraine, the collapse of Russia’s currency at home and plummeting oil prices worldwide — offered an evaluation of his personal love life to a throng of reporters gathered Thursday in Moscow for the Russian president’s annual media day.
Putin’s verdict? “All good!” the Russian leader assured his country’s 143 million citizens. “Don’t worry!”
Putin announced his separation from his wife of 30 years, Lyudmila, in June of 2013. The couple’s divorce was finalized in August of 2014, placing Russia’s most eligible bachelor back on the open market at age 62. And quite a catch he would be, not only wielding control of one of the world’s leading superpowers, but he also boasts a reported fortune of $70 billion, making him the third-richest man on the planet.
But even with multiple crises seemingly driving Putin into a corner, the reporters hit him with any number of fluffy “human interest” questions — including a question about his love life that came from Russia’s Voronezh area, a region near the border with Ukraine.
The reporter said that her aunt wanted to know if Putin, as Russia’s “main bachelor,” had time in his busy schedule to fit in a love life. Putin gave the thumbs up — and related an anecdote to back up his sunny evaluation of his personal affairs.
Putin said that “big shot” friend of his — raising the question of whether Putin has any other kind — recently asked him if he was in love. Putin said he replied that he was indeed in love with someone.
“He most likely decided I’d gone completely wild,” Putin told the reporter. “Then he said ‘Thank God.’ Then he knocked back a vodka.”
Even prior to his separation and divorce, Putin was reportedly involved in an affair with Alina Kabayeva, a retired Russian gymnast originally from Uzbekistan.
At 31, Kabayeva is literally half the age of Vladimir Putin.
The ex-gymnast had gone on to serve in politics, but in September, she suddenly dropped her political aspirations to take a position as head of the powerful National Media Group, which operates the pro-Putin Channel One television network and a number of publications that serve as mouthpieces for the Kremlin.
In addition to the response about his love life, Putin also took a flippant approach to a serious question about Russia’s current state of international relations.
“Maybe our dear bear should sit quietly, not chase piggies and just eat berries and honey,” said Putin, perhaps soothed by thoughts of his apparently thriving love life. “Maybe then he will be left alone?”