Lyudmila Putin, the wife of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, disappeared from public attention a year ago. She finally made her public appearance on May 24 when she arrived with her husband at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior to congratulate Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill on his name day (or Angel Day).
It was Lyudmila Putin’s first meeting with the new patriarch. She gave the patriarch a bouquet of white roses.
The Putins were last spotted together on March 2, 2008, when they took part in Russia’s presidential election. Afterwards, Putin was attending all other official event alone, without his wife. It was particularly eye-catching during the televised Easter service in 2009: President Dmitry Medvedev was standing in the church with his wife, whereas Putin was there alone.
Many rumors began to appear after Putin’s lonesome appearance at the Easter service. Russian tabloids wrote that the prime minister was probably having severe family problems since he never brought his wife to official meetings and trips. Lyudmila Putin vanished from TV screens too. In April 2008, The Moscow Correspondent newspaper published an article about Putin’s affair with Russian rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabayeva. The story soon proved to be a hoax.
Other newspapers wrote that Putin divorced his wife, that she married an ambassador of a small country and left to live there.
When Putin appeared with his wife Lyudmila in public on May 24, experts said that the prime minister did it to correct his image.
“The Russian electorate is conservative. The Russians want to see a top official as a decent family man, a husband and a father. No one would like it in Russia if Putin left his wife for a younger woman,” a scientist of politics told the New Region news agency on conditions of anonymity.