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The United States has announced further sanctions against Russia in the wake of alleged atrocities committed by Russian troops in Ukraine. Among those on the latest list of sanctions are two adult daughters of President Vladimir Putin.
“We believe that many of Putin’s assets are hidden from family members and that is why we are targeting them,” a senior Biden government official told reporters on Wednesday.
Putin has refused to publicly acknowledge the names of his children, but the Ministry of Finance pointed out that the daughters who were punished were Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova and Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova. Another is a pediatric endocrinologist, the former competition dancer who became technical director.
Putin is extremely private when it comes to his family, and many details about his children have been scarce and hidden. Here’s what we know about them.
Putin rarely speaks publicly about his children
Both are the daughters of Putin’s ex-wife, Lyudmila Putina, a flight attendant from Aeroflot whom Putin married in 1983. The two later divorced after three decades of marriage.
One of the few times Putin has talked about his children came at a press conference in 2015, according to the BBC. “My daughters live in Russia and only studied in Russia, I’m proud of them,” Putin said. “They speak three foreign languages fluently. I never talk to my family about anyone.”
“Every person has the right to his own destiny, he lives his own life and does it with dignity,” he said.
In Russian public life, the daughters are not identified as Putin’s children, and for many years they were kept out of the spotlight. But their profile has slowly risen in recent years as they have taken on influential positions in the country.
Putin’s eldest daughter is an endocrinologist
Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova is known by several other surnames: Faassen is her married surname, and she is sometimes also called Maria Putina. Her nickname is Masha.
Vorontsova was born in 1985 and now works as an endocrinologist and geneticist for children. She is registered as a doctor at the Endocrinology Research Center in Moscow, although she is the only doctor on the center’s website without a picture. The site identifies Vorontsova as vice-president of the Russian Society of Young Endocrinologists, and says she speaks English, German, French and Dutch.
“Vorontsova is leading billions of dollars in government-funded plans from the Kremlin for genetic research that are under Putin’s personal scrutiny,” the finance ministry said.
She appeared in a 2019 interview on Russian television where she talked about childhood obesity and diabetes.
In addition to medical research, she reportedly has business interests. BBC Russia reports that Vorontsova is a partner in a company that “participates in the implementation of the largest private investment project in the Russian health service.”
Vorontsova is married to a Dutch businessman named Jorrit Joost Faassen, who the BBC reports has once worked for the Russian energy giant Gazprom. It is believed that the two have divorced.
His other daughter is a competition dancer who became a technical director
Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova was born in Germany in 1986 while Putin was stationed there for the KGB. Her nickname is Katya.
Tikhonova’s last name is derived from her grandmother’s name, according to Reuters. For many years she was a competitive acrobatic dancer and several videos of her powerful performances with her partner Ivan Klimov are online.
Today she is a “technical director who supports her work [Government of Russia] and the defense industry, “said the US Treasury Department.
In 2015, Bloomberg announced a new $ 1.6 billion incubator and science center next to Moscow State University – which will be run by Tikhonova. At the time, she headed the National Intellectual Reserve Center and sat on the Moscow State Economic Council.
Tikhonova spoke at St. Petersburg International Economic Forum – the Russian version of Davos – last year on international investment disputes. At the conference, she was identified as the Deputy Director of the Institute for Mathematical Research in Complex Systems at Moscow State University.
Tikhonova is said to have been married to Kirill Shamalov, a Russian shareholder in a petroleum company and the son of many of Putin’s acquaintances from St. Petersburg.
A 2015 Reuters investigation found that the couple’s corporate assets were about $ 2 billion, primarily due to Shamalov’s petroleum share. The couple also owned a villa in Biarritz, France, valued at an estimated $ 3.7 million, according to Reuters.
The two reportedly divorced in 2018.
Putin is a grandfather. And he could have other children
In a 2017 televised question-and-answer session with Russian news agency TASS, Putin said he had recently received another grandson and explained why he was protecting his family from being examined.
“Look, I do not want them to be brought up as ‘blue blood’. I want them to grow up as ordinary people, “he said.
“As soon as I state their ages, names, they would be revealed as soon as any interest would harm the children’s development,” Putin said. “So everything is fine and I ask you to understand me correctly and respect this position.”
Sergei Chirkov / AFP through Getty Images
His current partner is believed to be Alina Kabaeva, a former Olympic gold medalist, a gymnast, although Putin has refused to confirm their relationship.
When asked by a journalist about his relationship with Kabaeva, Newsweek reported that Putin replied: “Of course I am aware of the cliché that politicians live in glass houses, but even in these cases there must be some limits … I always disliked with people walking around with their erotic fantasies and sticking their noses into another person’s life. ”
The two are believed to have several children together and rumor has it that Kabaeva is being held in Switzerland.