Putin’s Private Life – The New York Times

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President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, has long been adept at keeping his personal life shrouded in secrecy. But new Western sanctions targeting members of his family are lifting this veil, reports our correspondent Jason Horowitz.

Britain today imposed new sanctions on Putin’s family and inner circle, including his estranged wife, Lyudmila Ocheretnaya, and Alina Kabaeva, a retired Olympic gymnast with whom he has long reportedly had a relationship in love.

His two adult daughters, Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Vorontsova, were placed on the sanctions list by the United States and its allies last month. The United States nearly imposed sanctions on Kabaeva, but pulled out at the last moment to avoid an escalation, officials said.

Members of Putin’s family entourage are the beneficiaries of a kleptocratic system over which he rules like a mafia gift, bestowing wealth, lucrative jobs and luxurious villas. For decades, few managed to penetrate this protective bubble, but the invasion changed that.

In villa-studded Russian enclaves in Switzerland, a petition began circulating in March calling for Kabaeva’s repatriation, angrily comparing her to Hitler’s mistress, Eva Braun. Lugano residents whisper about the green glass building overlooking the lake where Kabaeva lives, the hospital where her children are said to have been born and the schools they attended. But they didn’t see her.

And on the outskirts of Amsterdam, protesters recently sent a message to Putin by planting Ukrainian flags on land recently bought by Jorrit Faassen, a Dutchman who was once married and has at least one child with Vorontsova, the eldest daughter of Putin.

In 2013, Putin’s other recognized daughter, Tikhonova, reportedly married Kirill Shamalov, the son of a close Putin associate and major shareholder of Bank Rossiya. His son-in-law has since acquired a roughly $3 billion stake in Russia’s leading oil and petrochemical company and has become one of its major shareholders.

The couple also acquired a beachfront villa in Biarritz, France. In March, Russian militants broke into this villa and tried to make it available to Ukrainian refugees.


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Agriculture ministers from the Group of 7 Major Economies and Ukraine met today in Stuttgart, Germany to discuss new routes for the transport of wheat, maize and other crops from Ukraine to global markets.

Russian warships on the Black Sea coast have blocked freighters from leaving major ports like Odessa, halting most exports from Ukraine, the world’s fourth-largest grain exporter.

Russian blockade risks causing global food crisis, says UN World Food Programme, which has called for ports to reopen to avert the threat of famine.

Prior to the Russian invasion, almost all Ukrainian grain shipments were exported by sea.

Ministers are studying possible routes by land and rail, as well as via the Danube. About 20 million tons of the previous crop are waiting to be shipped, Ukraine’s agriculture minister said. An additional 30 to 40 million tonnes could be exported from crops this year.

Some 276 million people worldwide faced hunger at the start of the year, according to the WFP. That number could rise to 47 million if the war continues, with the steepest increases in sub-Saharan Africa.


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