Putin’s ‘mistress’ hosts Z-symbol parade wearing £2k dress by Brit-based designer after ‘hiding out’ in Swiss chalet
VLADIMIR Putin’s “mistress” defied sanctions to wear a £2,000 dress as she hosted a Z-symbol parade in support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Alina Kabaeva, 38, was seen on videos leading a patriotic gymnastics ballet festival accompanied by a uniformed military choir.
The former Olympic gold-medallist reappeared in Moscow after rumours that she was hiding in a Swiss chalet or a Siberian nuclear bunker since the start of the Ukraine invasion.
The event included some of the Soviet Union’s most patriotic songs in a celebration of the country’s victory over the Nazis — but also the “Z” symbol likened by critics to a Russian swastika.
Kabaeva flaunted a £1,915 silk fuchsia dress from London-based designer Alessandra Rich at her annual Alina festival.
With a patriotic St George’s ribbon pinned on her chest, she linked victory in the Second World War to today’s events: “This theme, you see, this story, doesn’t only go into the past. It stays with us.”
Her words resonate with Putin’s claim that his modern-day war is against “Nazis” who control Ukraine, just as World War Two was to defeat Hitler’s Nazis.
“This celebration is not just for the whole country, this is a holiday for every family,” said Kabaeva.
“Every family has a war story. And we mustn’t ever forget it, but pass it on, from generation to generation.”
Girl performers of different ages were dressed in a wartime uniform at the show.
Performers represented Russia, Belarus and Ukraine in a display that seemed to re-enact Soviet victory.
The full show will be broadcast on May 8, the eve of a vast Red Square military parade commemorating “Victory Day”.
Putin himself is expected to use Victory Day to claim some kind of triumph from his invasion of Ukraine, despite a Russian death toll of around 30,000.
It comes after the US deliberately avoided sanctioning Vladimir Putin’s alleged mistress at the 11th hour over fears it would further inflame tensions between the Kremlin and the west.
Washington officials believed that sanctioning Kabaeva would be seen as a “personal” attack on Putin.
When she first reappeared last week, reports focused on her new look hinting at botox and fillers.
Russian Cosmopolitan said “something has really changed in Kabaeva’s face”, adding that “the legendary athlete was noticeably prettier”.
The mag hinted at Kabaeva being the country’s unofficial first lady: “Alina Kabaeva is one of the most mysterious and secretive women in our country.
“The gymnast almost never appears in public, does not [appear in] social networks, and it is not possible to accidentally see her on the street or in shopping centres.”
Putin has allegedly been romantically linked to the gymnast for well over a decade, going back to her time as a pro-Kremlin MP.
There have been many reports of her wearing a wedding ring, but no records of a marriage.
And many Russians saw her as the reason for the breakup of Putin’s marriage to ex-first lady Lyudmila, 63, who is the mother of his two adult daughters
Kabaeva disappeared from the public eye for almost three years in 2018, amid suspicions she had given birth to twins at a Moscow hospital.
She is rumoured to have four young children with the Russian leader who reportedly holed them up in “a very private and secure chalet in Switzerland” when the war in Ukraine erupted.
Kabaeva has kept a low profile in the Ukraine war – but her media has been vocal in cheerleading for Putin.
The Russian gymnast heads up National Media Group and has an estimated salary of almost £8 million a year.