The United Kingdom has introduced sanctions against Alina Kabaeva, a former gymnast considered to be the mistress of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, UK media outlet Sky News reported on May 13.
The UK has also sanctioned Putin’s ex-wife, Lyudmila Ocheretnaya, as well as two of his cousins.
UK Foreign Minister Liz Truss said her country is targeting “the shadow network that is enjoying the luxurious style of life preferred by Putin”.
"We are putting more pressure on Putin’s inner circle,” she commented.
At the beginning of May, various media outlets reported that the European Union is planning to sanction Kabaeva.
The two have been photographed together several times, including one session that included flowers presented by Putin to Kabaeva, who served two terms in Russian parliament and had a seat on the board of United Russia, a pro-Putin political party led by former Russian president Dmitriy Medvedev.
During her gymnastics career, Kabaeva was plagued by a doping scandal widely covered by the media. She is also said to be heavily influenced by Iosif Kobzon, a late Russian singer well-known for his songs promoting a Soviet-era worldview.
The EU report on Kabaeva mentions her as a having a “close connection” to Putin. She currently serves as the head of Russia’s National Media Group, which owns shares in major Russian media outlets, which all serve as vectors to spread pro-Russian propaganda.
Putin himself, as well as Ocheretnaya and two their daughters, have already been sanctioned by the EU.
Putin divorced Ocheretnaya in 2013 publicly, announcing the end of their marriage in a television program broadcast on Russian state-owned TV channels.
Since then, Ocheretnaya has kept her public profile low, while appearing on the photographs taken during Russian church services.
At the end of April, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. regulators were planning to sanction Kabaeva as well, but postponed the decision in order to have a path for escalating sanctions.
Some media reports have said that Kabaeva lives in Switzerland, a non-EU country with loose banking regulations, and has three children, who are suspected of being Putin’s. However, that has not been officially confirmed.