Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife, Lyudmila, said their marriage had ended just short of their 30th anniversary, blaming demands on his time and his high-profile position.
The Putins said the decision was mutual, speaking in an interview on state television channel Rossiya 24, following a rare public appearance together at the ballet “Esmeralda” in the Kremlin. The announcement ends years of speculation about difficulties in their marriage.
“All my activity, my work is public, absolutely public,” Putin, 60, said. “Someone may like it, someone may not. But there are people who are totally incompatible with this.”
Lyudmila Putina, 55, said the demands on his time led to the estrangement. “We virtually never see each other,” she said, adding that she’s grateful for his support.
The Putins were last shown together in May 2012 at his inauguration and before that while casting their ballots in the March election, when he won a third term as president.
Putin met his wife, then Lyudmila Shkrebnyova, while she was a flight attendant, before leaving to serve in Germany with the KGB. They married on July 28, 1983, and have two daughters, Maria and Katerina, whom they kept out of the public eye.
“I knew that if I didn’t marry in another two or three years, I’d never marry,” Putin wrote of Lyudmila in his official biography. “Of course, the habit of a bachelor’s life had set in. Lyudmila overcame it.”
Five years ago the owners of Moskovskiy Korrespondent shut the tabloid after it reported that Putin had divorced his wife and was planning to marry Olympic gymnast Alina Kabayeva.
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