There’s a buzz on Russian social media about the rumored girlfriend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Popular Russian entertainer Alexander Belov posted a photo of armed guards allegedly protecting Alina Kabaeva as she grabbed a coffee, according to Vocativ. Kabaeva is three very important things in Russia: Alina Kabaeva is a former Olympic rhythmic gymnast, Alina Kabaeva is a former member of the Russian parliament, and Alina Kabaeva is rumored to be the girlfriend of Putin. It is the third distinction that drew the armed guards, according to Belov.
It may not no longer be true that history is made by men with women influencing things primarily behind the scenes. Angela Merkel, for one, would argue against the notion. But in Russian patriarchal society, it’s been a long time since Catherine the Great. And there’s little doubt that Putin’s legacy on the world stage has undergone a sea change since his divorce last year from Lyudmila Putin. Is the influence of the former Olympian Kabaeva–younger than Lyudmila and deeply competitive–having an effect on Putin, who since his divorce has annexed Crimea and infiltrated Eastern Ukraine?