Russia’s Putin – Wife Announce Divorce
Vladimir Putin pulled off one of his most audacious pieces of stagecraft, attending a ballet with his rarely seen wife and then announcing their marriage is over. But how will it play to his audience of 143 million Russians?
The end of the marriage of the Russian president and Lyudmila Putina less than two months shy of their 30th anniversary came on state television after a Thursday evening that started out like a model of domestic contentment — a devoted husband taking his wife to the ballet.
But after the performance of “Esmeralda” at the Great Kremlin Palace, the two came into a luxurious room to speak to a reporter.
“Excellent. Great music, excellent production,” Putin said and Lyudmila echoed his praise.
After about a minute, the reporter asked about rumours that the two didn’t live together. Putin smiled slightly, like a boy caught misbehaving, and turned his head toward Lyudmila. “This is so,” he said.
It wasn’t immediately clear if that meant just separate domiciles. After a few more comments, the reporter gently prodded: “I am afraid to say this word ‘divorce’.”
“Yes, this is a civilized divorced,” Lyudmila said.
The peculiar format for the announcement appeared aimed at underlining that this wasn’t just a powerful man dumping his faithful helpmate. That’s a potentially important strategic move for Putin, who has based his public image on rectitude and support of traditional values.
Tabloid reports in 2008 claimed that Putin already had divorced Lyudmila and planned to marry a gymnast less than half his age.
The Interfax news agency cited presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying the divorce has not been formalized and that the televised comments were only an announcement of the decision to divorce.
Looks like the Putins are not “Putin on the Ritz” anymore!