VLADIMIR Putin’s "gymnast lover" is earning millions a year as a pro-Kremlin media boss, according to reports of leaked tax records.

Former Olympic gold medalist Alina Kabaeva is said to pocket a salary of £7.78m even though she has not "been seen for years", claims a new expose.

The 37-year-old is paid via billionaire Yury Kovalchuk, an oligarch close to Putin who is a shareholder of the National Media Group,according to independent investigative reporting outlet The Insider. 

Kabaeva has been dubbed "Russia's most flexible woman" and "the Kremlin's First Mistress” even though Putin has never acknowledged a relationship with her. 

Last month it was claimed she had vanished amid rumours she had twins with the Russian leader.

However, there have been strong denials of rumours that she has a family with the divorced president. 

The Insider claims they met when she was 18 in 2001 – the year she was temporarily banned from competing in rhythmic gymnastics after failing a doping test. 

They were first linked romantically in 2008 in a newspaper owned by Putin’s former KGB spy colleague Alexander Lebedev. 

Reports say Kabaeva has mysteriously not been seen in public for two years.

She was a pro-Putin MP from 2007-14 but now earns “dozens of times more” in her media role, her 2018 earnings state according to The Insider's report.

“The National Media Group does not publish annual reports showing directors’ remuneration,” reported the anti-corruption publication.

“The company has never answered media queries about it. Therefore, Alina Kabaeva’s income was unknown. Until now. 

“According to the leaked Federal Tax Service’s database, the ex-sportswoman's official income in the National Media Group (NMG) was 785,400,000 roubles (£7.78 m). The Insider has verified this information.”

The average salary in Russia is just £5,867 a year. 

National Media Group owns shares in a range of major Russian outlets including REN TV, Channel 1, STS TV, 5th Channel, Izvestia and Sport Express, which are also subsidised by the state. 

Once regarded as Russia’s most eligible woman, the only other suitor the beauty has been linked to was a married Georgian policeman.

This relationship petered out in 2005 amid complaints of tabloid intrusion into the sportswoman’s life.

She once posed almost nude for Maxim and was described as “full of sex” by a photographer. 

There have been many reports of her wearing a wedding ring, but no records of a marriage.

She is reported to have a fleet of Maybach limousines at her disposal, and has been surrounded by a squad of machine-gun toting security guards on visits to a Moscow cafe. 

Many Russians saw her as the reason for the breakup of Putin’s marriage to ex-first lady Lyudmila, 62, mother of his two adult daughters.

The dictator of neighbouring Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, hinted that Putin's divorce decision came about because Kabaeva "put pressure on the president".

Putin has previously said: "I have a private life in which I do not permit interference. It must be respected.”

He deplored "those who with their snotty noses and erotic fantasies prowl into others' lives”.

Kabaeva is on record as saying she had met a man who "I love very much”, gushing: "Sometimes you feel so happy that you even feel scared." 

Source: Read Full Article