The latest round of US sanctions against Russia has sparked a review of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s family life and revealed two new targets: Katerina and Maria, his eldest daughters.
Despite Putin’s dominance in Russian politics, he rarely talks about his family and little is known about his privacy or children.
Katerina and Maria have never officially confirmed that the Russian leader is their father. Putin’s marriage to their mother Lydmila, who was once part of the Aeroflot passenger crew, ended in divorce in 2013.
The United States says Katerina Tikhonova, 35, is a technical director who supports the Russian government and its defense industry. Her 36-year-old sister, Maria Vorontsova, is leading billions of dollars in government-sponsored programs from the Kremlin toward genetic research that are under Putin’s personal control.
A senior U.S. official said Washington believed “Putin’s assets are hidden from family members.”
According to the Kremlin website, Maria was born in 1985 and Katerina a year later after the family moved to Dresden, then in East Germany, where Putin was a KGB spy.
Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy, co-authors of Who is Mr Putin ?, state in their autobiography of the Russian president in 2015 that “personal information is incredibly scarce for such a prominent public figure. His wife, daughters and other family members, for example, are conspicuously absent from the public. “
Katerina is best known – at least on YouTube – as an acrobatic rock ‘n’ roll dancer whose videos show her performing tiring habits, including rolling and rolling in major international competitions.
But a 2015 Reuters poll revealed it in a rather different light, underscoring its links and influence among Moscow’s upper classes.
According to the report, Katerina, now the director of the Institute for Mathematical Research in Complex Systems at Moscow State University, described herself as “the spouse” of Kirill Shamalov, the son of Nikolai Shamalov, a longtime friend of Putin’s who is also a shareholder in Bank Rossiya. The report estimated that the couple’s corporate assets were worth about $ 2 billion, in addition to other assets and assets. Kirill is already under sanctions.
Maria studied biology at the University of St. Petersburg and medicine at the Moscow State University and is heavily involved in genetic research.
News in the Russian and Western media say that she married a Dutch businessman and lived in the Netherlands for a while.
Reuters reported that while Maria specialized in the endocrine system, her husband previously worked for Gazprombank, a lender with strong ties to the Kremlin. There were no immediate plans for their assets and holdings, and Leonid Volkov, Russia’s opposition chief adviser to Alexei Navalny, said the marriage was over.
Navalny has long been working to uncover Putin’s wealth, and Volkov said the latest sanctions were welcome.
“This is a very important symbolic step,” he said, given the seriousness of the situation in Ukraine. “This is a very important symbolic step, which means that we are following Putin personally, we realize how much his personal guilt is at the beginning of this bloody war.
Putin’s wealth is a sensitive issue in Russia.
The Kremlin denied last year that it owned a magnificent palace on the Black Sea, as Navalny claimed in a video that went viral on YouTube.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in February that sanctions included “ridiculous allegations” about some of Putin’s assets.
“The president has no assets other than those he has declared,” Peskov said.
At a press conference in 2019, Putin refused to answer directly the question of his daughters’ growing business strength and their relationship with the government. He referred to Vorontsova and Tikhonova as “women” and never recognized them as his children.
“I am proud of them. They continue to learn and they work, “Putin told a news conference a few years earlier.
“They are not involved in any economic activity and they are not involved in politics. “They are not trying to push themselves,” he added.
In an interview in 2020, Putin said he did not want to share any information about his family because of “security concerns”.
He stated that he had grandchildren, but did not want to say how many.
“I have grandchildren, I’m happy. They are very good, so sweet. I really enjoy spending time with them. “
Navalny’s group also calls for sanctions against Alina Kabaeva, a former gymnast and lawmaker who they say is Putin’s second wife and the mother of his two youngest children. She is also the chair of the National Media Group, Russia’s largest media group.