Who is Alina Kabaeva? Putin's ex-gymnast 'lover' facing calls for deportation

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·Freelance Writer
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Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) smiles next to Russian gymnast Alina Kabaeva during a meeting with the Russian Olympic team at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia in this November 4, 2004 file photo. REUTERS/ITAR-TASS/PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE/Files      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Russian president Vladimir Putin smiles next to Russian gymnast and alleged lover Alina Kabaeva in 2004. (Reuters)

An Olympic gymnast and rumoured mistress of Vladimir Putin is facing being deported from Switzerland over her links to the Russian president.

As the Ukraine crisis rages on, Alina Kabaeva, 38, is reportedly living in a “private and secure” Swiss chalet with her children, but a petition for her removal from the country has received over 63,000 signatures.

The petition describes Kabaeva as the “favourite wife of a delusional dictator” and accuses Swiss authorities of “continuing to host her and her family, whilst Putin is destroying the lives of millions”.

Started by Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian nationals, the petition compares Putin to Adolf Hitler, and calls on Switzerland to see that “Eva Braun” be “returned to her Fuehrer”.

Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Youth Affairs and member of the United Russia party Alina Kabaeva (L) listens to Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaking at parliament at the State Duma in Moscow April 20, 2011. Putin said on Wednesday that Russia was emerging powerfully from the global financial crisis but must reduce its reliance on energy and raw materials to see off external threats to its economy.  REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin  (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS)
Alina Kabaeva listens to Vladimir Putin speaking at parliament at the State Duma in Moscow in 2011. (Reuters)

The petition also condemns Kabaeva's actions while a member of the Russian parliament in reportedly drafting what is described as a "shameful" law that deprives many Russian orphans of being adopted abroad.

Putin was previously married to Lyudmila Shkrebneva but there were rumours that he had divorced her in 2008 and became engaged to Kabaeva – claims which were subsequently denied.

While Putin and Shkrebneva’s divorce was finalised in 2014, rumours of a relationship with Kabaeva have always been denied.

Watch: Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko attacks Putin: 'He's sick, he's an unhealthy man'

Further denials were also made when it was reported that Putin fathered multiple children with Kabaeva – including a son in 2008, a daughter in 2012, another daughter in 2015 and twin sons in 2019.

Despite this, Putin has been pictured with Kabaeva multiple times and she is widely regarded by Russians to be the cause of Putin’s marriage breakdown.

Formerly a practising Muslim, Kabaeva is a former Olympic gymnast and gold medalist who was once named ‘Russia's most flexible woman’.

Former World and Olympic champion Russian gymnast Alina Kabayeva takes her seat before the first meeting of a new representative and consultative body, the Public Chamber, at the Grand Kremlin Palace's St. George?s hall in Moscow January 22, 2006. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
Alina Kabayeva takes her seat before the first meeting of a new representative and consultative body, the Public Chamber, at the Grand Kremlin Palace in 2006. (Reuters)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) greets Russian gymnasts Alina Kabayeva (C) and Svetlana Khorkina (L) during a meeting with candidates to the Russian Olympic team for Summer Olympics 2004 at the presidential residence in Novo-Ogaryovo outside Moscow, March 10, 2004. REUTERS/Pool  AS
Vladimir Putin greets Alina Kabayeva, centre, and Svetlana Khorkina, left, during a meeting with candidates for the Russian Olympic team for Summer Olympics in 2004. (Reuters)

As well as her two Olympic medals, she also holds 21 European Championship medals and 14 World Championship medals.

However, she was convicted of using a banned substance in 2001 and was disqualified from competing for two years.

A separate petition on Change.org is demanding she now be stripped of her Olympic medals, saying that "she and other supporters of Putin are no less culpable for terrorising the innocent people of Ukraine”.

RUSSIA'S KABAEVA SHOWS HER GOLD MEDAL DURING AWARD CEREMONY OF EUROPEAN RHYTHMIC GYMNASTICS CHAMPIONSHIP IN KIEV.  Russia's Alina Kabaeva shows her gold medal during the award ceremony of the all-round individual competition at the European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship in Kiev, June 6, 2004. Ukraine's Anna Bessonova took silver and Russia's Irina Chaschina bronze. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Alina Kabaeva shows her gold medal during the award ceremony of the all-round individual competition at the European Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship in Kiev in 2004. (Reuters)

Following her sports career, Kabaeva transitioned to politics and was the deputy speaker in Russia’s State Duma between 2007 and 2014, going on to become the chair of the Kremlin-linked National Media Group.

But in recent years she has disappeared from the limelight and stopped attending public functions.

It is believed she is currently in Switzerland due to their four children all holding Swiss passports – making it potentially difficult for authorities there to take action against Kabaeva.

And while it has not been officially confirmed that she is in Switzerland, there have been reports of her visiting restaurants and cafes with an armed guard.

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