Russian Oligarchs

Alina Kabaeva: From Olympian to Enigmatic Figure in Russian Politics

Alina Kabaeva, also known as Kabayeva, was born on May 12, 1983. She is a retired individual rhythmic gymnast, media manager, and politician from Russia. The Russian government has named her an Honorary Master of Sports.

Kabaeva holds two Olympic medals, fourteen World Championship medals, and twenty-one European Championship medals, making her one of the most decorated gymnasts in the history of rhythmic gymnastics. Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, is supposedly her longtime partner.

Kabaeva represented United Russia as a deputy in the State Duma from 2007 until 2014. Kabaeva was appointed chair of the National Media Group’s board of directors in September 2014 

Early life and family

Kabaeva, the daughter of professional football player Marat Kabayev and Lyubov Kabaeva, was born in Tashkent, Uzbek SSR, Soviet Union, on May 12, 1983. Her mother is Russian, and her father is a Muslim Tatar. Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, appointed her younger sister Leysan Kabaeva, who is the general director of a real estate company, as a judge of the Almetyevsk City Court in Tatarstan in 2016. The family frequently traveled to various locations in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan as a result of Marat’s career.

Rhythmic gymnastics career

Early career

At the age of three, Kabaeva began rhythmic gymnastics training under Margarita Samuilovna. She competed for Kazakhstan in an international competition held in Japan in 1993.

Kabaeva relocated to Moscow in her early teens, and her mother introduced her to Irina Viner, the Russian head coach.


Kabaeva remained with Viner and, in 1996, represented Russia in her first international appearance. The 1998 European Championships were won by Kabaeva, then 15 years old, in Portugal. She was the youngest player on the Russian team at the time, and she competed with Irina Tchachina, Yana Batyrshina, and Amina Zaripova, all of whom are well-known worldwide. Kabaeva went on to win the 1999 World Title in Osaka, Japan, and the 1999 European Championship in Hungary. Kabaeva continued on to the European Championships, where she won five All-Around titles.

Kabaeva was supposed to win the gold in the all-around competition at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in Australia. However, she ended up with the bronze medal with a final score of 39.466 (Rope 9.925, Hoop 9.641, Ball 9.950, Ribbon 9.950) after making a mistake in an otherwise flawless performance. Yulia Raskina of Belarus won the silver medal, and Yulia Barsukova of Russia, her teammate, took home the gold.


Kabaeva won the gold medal in the ball, clubs, hoop, rope, individual all-around, and team competitions at the 2001 World Championships in Madrid, Spain. Kabaeva won the gold medal in the ball, clubs, and rope events as well as the silver in the individual all-around and hoop competitions at the 2001 Goodwill Games in Brisbane, Australia. But after testing positive for furosemide, a prohibited diuretic, Kabaeva and her teammate Irina Tchachina lost their medals.[19]

The Russian head coach, Viner, who was also the Vice President of the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Technical Committee at the time, claimed that her gymnasts were taking a food supplement called “Hyper” for premenstrual syndrome. Viner claimed that the supplement contained mild diuretics. The team physiotherapist restocked at a nearby pharmacy when the supply ran out just before the Goodwill Games. Viner claims that the supplement they were selling there was phony and contained furosemide.

The Committee asked that the results of Kabaeva and Tchachina be void by the Goodwill Games Organizing Committee. Tamara Yerofeeva of Ukraine was crowned the 2001 world champion after the FIG threw out their results from the World Championships in Madrid. It was forbidden for Kabaeva to compete between August 2001 and August 2002. At the 2002 European Championships, her first international competition following the ban, she won the individual all-around title.

Budapest, Hungary was the venue for Kabaeva’s 2003 World Title victory. At the 2003 World Championships, Kabaeva won the Gold Medal in the All-Around competition and defeated Ukrainian Anna Bessonova in the Ribbon and Ball event final.

Kabaeva won the gold medal in the all-around competition at the 2004 European Championships held in Kyiv, Ukraine. With a score of 108.400 (Hoop 26.800, Ball 27.350, Clubs 27.150, Ribbon 27.100), Kabaeva won the gold medal in the Individual All-Around for Rhythmic Gymnastics at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. Her teammate Irina Tchachina took home the silver medal.


Kabaeva declared her retirement from competitive swimming in October 2004. But Russian head coach Irina Viner hinted at a potential return in June 2005. On September 10, 2005, Kabaeva returned to competition at an Italy-Russia friendly in Genoa. Kabaeva won the Gazprom Moscow Grand Prix on March 5, 2006; Olga Kapranova and Vera Sessina, two other Russian drivers, finished second and third. At the 2006 European Championships, Kabaeva finished second in the All-Around competition behind teammate Sessina.

Representatives of Russia were Kabaeva, Sessina, and Kapranova at the 2007 European Championships held in Baku, Azerbaijan. However, Kabaeva withdrew due to an injury on the eve of the competition. Viner chose Evgenia Kanaeva, a young gymnast on the Russian national team, to take her place. At the 2007 World Championships, Kabaeva placed fourth in the All-Around qualifying round and was not allowed to go to the finals because of the two-per-country restriction; Olga Kapranova and Vera Sessina placed ahead of Kabaeva.

Rhythmic gymnastic achievements

  • Became the youngest person ever to win an all-around title at the 1998 European Championships in Porto, Portugal, at the age of fifteen.
  • Until Yana Kudryavtseva of the Russian Federation broke the record by winning the All-Around 2013 World Championships at the age of 15, she was tied with Elena Karpukhina for the title of youngest rhythmic gymnast to win the All-Around World Championships in 1999 in Osaka at the age of 16.
  • Owns the record for the most All-Around titles in Europe with five, including in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, and 2004.
  • Only one of three rhythmic gymnasts in history to win all Grand Slam titles, along with Ekaterina Serebrianskaya and Eugenia Kanaeva. Olympics, World Cup Final, European Championship, World Cup Final, and Grand Prix Final are the titles.
  • Became the 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2006, and 2007 Russian National All-Around Champion six times.


Kabaeva was one of the six Russian athletes who carried the Olympic flame during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony through Fisht Stadium. Because of her supposed close relationship to President Vladimir Putin, her choice as a torch bearer caused controversy in the international media.

Kabaeva attended the 2015 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, as an honorary guest in 2015. At the 2017 World Championships in Pesaro, Italy, she was appointed as the official FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics Ambassador in 2017.

Political and Media careers

Kabaeva has been a member of the Russian Public Chamber since 2005. She has served as the chair of the National Media Group’s Public Council [ru] since February 2008. This media group is in charge of Izvestia, Channel One, and REN TV.

Kabaeva represented Nizhnekamsk as a member of the United Russia party in the Russian Parliament, the State Duma, from 2007 to 2014. As a member of parliament, she supported several contentious laws that were swiftly passed in 2012 and 2013. These included the Russian gay propaganda law, which made it illegal for minors to distribute “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships,” the Anti-Magnitsky bill, which outlawed the adoption of Russian orphans by American families, the extrajudicial ban on access to websites that might host content that violates copyright laws, and the reorganization of the Academy of Sciences.

Kabaeva left the Duma in September 2014 to take a job as chair of the board of directors of the biggest media company in Russia, National Media Group. When she was appointed to political and media positions, her high salary and lack of experience drew criticism.

Personal life

The Moskovsky Korrespondent revealed in April 2008 that Kabaeva and Russian President Vladimir Putin were getting engaged. The newspaper was shut down and the story was rejected. The status of Kabaeva and Putin’s relationship came under scrutiny in the years that followed, with some speculating that they were parents to several children together.

Kabaeva declared that she was childless in July 2013. It was reported that she gave birth to a daughter at the Saint Ann VIP hospital in Ticino, Switzerland, in March 2015. She is said to have given birth to twin sons at the Moscow Kulakov maternity clinic in 2019. Nonetheless, in 2022, the SonntagsZeitung, a Swiss newspaper, revealed that Putin’s sons were born in 2015 and 2019, respectively, and that a Russian-born Swiss gynecologist had assisted at both births.

Security officials in the US and Europe claim that Kabaeva has been living in Lugano and Cologny, Switzerland, for extended periods since 2015.

Sanctions On Alina Kabaeva

Sanctions were placed on several Russian business and political figures after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The US Department of the Treasury prepared sanctions against Kabaeva in April 2022, but the US government decided against enforcing them out of concern that her purported relationship with Putin would worsen tensions between the US and Russia. On August 3, 2022, the Office of Foreign Assets Control added Kabaeva to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List. As a result, her assets are frozen and Americans are not allowed to do business with her.

The United Kingdom sanctioned Kabaeva and her grandmother Anna Zatseplina on May 13, 2022. Canada placed sanctions on Kabaeva on May 27. The European Union imposed sanctions on her on June 3. Australia sanctioned her on July 1.

Rumored Relationship with Vladimir Putin

Because of rumors about her relationship with Putin, Kabaeva has been the subject of a lot of speculation. Since 2008, there have been recurring rumors and speculations regarding their relationship, although both have refuted these claims. Reports that she and Putin were residing in a villa near Lake Valdai, northwest of Moscow, fueled more rumors. Though neither party has confirmed it, there has been conjecture regarding the possibility of children from this relationship.

Public Appearances and Speculations

Kabaeva, who was once a well-known public figure, has occasionally disappeared from the spotlight, which has stoked more rumors about her personal life. She disappeared from public view following her last known public appearance in October 2022, which coincided with reports regarding Putin’s health.


Alina Kabaeva is one of the most fascinating characters in modern Russian history because of her transformation from a gymnastics prodigy to a political figure entangled in rumors of a high-profile relationship. Her life, shrouded in mystery and replete with amazing accomplishments, continues to pique public curiosity in Russia and around the world.

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