As Western leaders impose harsh sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials have declined to sanction Russian President Vladimir Putin’s alleged partner, Alina Kabaeva, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
The decision to exclude the 39-year-old former Olympic gold-medalist and Russian Vogue cover model was largely attributed to U.S. officials’ fear that the action may be confrontational enough to endanger efforts for peace negotiations in Ukraine, according to The Wall Street Journal.
After retiring from gymnastics, Kabaeva entered politics in 2008 and was rumored to have hidden romantic relations with Putin, the WSJ reported. Kabaeva served as a deputy in the Russian State Duma until being appointed as chairwoman of Russia’s National Media Group (NMG), one of the country’s largest private media organizations, according to The Moscow Times.
Kabaeva was appointed by Yuri Kovalchuk, the owner of NMG and the largest shareholder of the recently sanctioned Rossiya Bank, the WSJ reported.
Prior to the most recent round of sanctions, Kabaeva’s name and photo were removed from the NMG website, the International Business Times reported. Georgy Alburov, an activist and ally of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, claimed on Twitter that the decision to take Kabaeva off the website was largely to help her avoid sanctions, according to Business Insider. (RELATED: Russia Sanctioned 398 Members of Congress. Here’s How They Reacted)
⚡ Looks like we’ve managed to get Alina Kabaeva fired in just one day. Her profile was deleted from the NMG website. Yesterday, when I posted the thread in Russian, Kabaeva’s profile was there. Now it’s gone.
Hahah, they actually believe this will help them avoid the sanctions🙂 https://t.co/ZJedBVy4gC pic.twitter.com/EX8Ns62qAZ
— Георгий Албуров (@alburov) April 6, 2022
Alburov also called for U.S. lawmakers to impose sanctions on Kabaeva expressing concern over her role in helping the Kremlin hide Putin’s wealth and international assets, according to CBS News.
They literally got afraid that Putin would “react aggressively”. What can he do in response to sanctions against the mother of his 3 children that he hasn’t already done? Bomb a children’s theater? Kill hundreds of civilians somewhere near Kiev? Order his soldiers to rape women?
— Георгий Албуров (@alburov) April 25, 2022
While much of Putin and Kabaeva’s relationship is yet to be confirmed, Kabaeva has allegedly mothered four of Putin’s children. She is also believed to have retreated to a secure location in Switzerland and only recently made a rare public appearance at gymnastics festival named in her honor where she participated in the opening ceremony, Newsweek reported.
The Biden administration has levied penalties against many individuals with close ties to the Kremlin, including Putin’s two adult daughters from his first marriage, Maria Vorontsova, 36, and Katerina Tikhonova, 35, according to the New York Post.