Vladimir Putin confirms divorce from Lyudmila Putina
Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila Putina have announced their marriage is over.
The Russian president and his wife, who had been married for 30 years, made their divorce public on Russian state television after attending a ballet performance.
“It was a joint decision: we hardly see each other, each of us has our own life”, Vladimir Putin said.
Lyudmila Aleksandrovna Putina had rarely been seen in public in recent months, prompting much speculation in Russian media.
She is known to dislike publicity, and told the TV reporter that flying was difficult for her.
The divorce was “civilized” and the couple would “always remain close”, she said.
“I am very grateful to Vladimir… that he still supports me. And the children, he really cares for them and the children feel this,” Lyudmila Putina added.
Vladimir Putin confirmed on TV that the two were no longer living together.
Vladimir Putin and Lyudmila Shkrebneva were married in 1983. They have two daughters, Maria and Yekaterina, both in their 20s.
“Our children have grown up; they have their own lives,” Lyudmila Putina added.
She and Vladimir Putin were last seen together at his inauguration for his third term as president on 7 May 2012.
Neither clarified whether or not their marriage had been legally dissolved.
Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said: “They separated a long time ago. I don’t know if the divorce has been formalized but I can confirm that we are talking about a civilized divorce.”
The announcement came after the couple had gone to see the ballet Esmeralda at the Kremlin Palace – they left after the first act.
Thursday’s announcement confirms what had been rumored for years, that the Putins were having marital problems.
But the news has still come as a shock to many Russians, who are not used to their leaders getting divorced.
The Putins’ marriage has been the subject of speculation before.
In 2008, Vladimir Putin denied rumors that he had secretly divorced and was planning to remarry former Olympic gymnast Alina Kabayeva.