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Is this Vladimir Putin’s son?
In elite Russian and Western diplomatic circles, it’s taken as fact that the boy born to Alina Kabaeva – Olympic gymnast, Duma deputy, smoldering beauty – in December bears the DNA of Russia’s most powerful man.
Now you can judge for yourself. One day after its launch, www.besttoday.ru, which compiles the most important and popular news spinning in Russia’s active blogosphere, slapped a photo of Kabaeva holding her baby on its frontpage.
I don’t see much of a resemblance, but what do I know.
The site’s founder, opposition activist Marina Litvinovich, tweeted: “People are yelling at me since besttoday.ru put up a story about Kabaeva's son. But since morning it's been actively written about on the blogs and we can't ignore that."
Why the worry? Everyone remembers the last time a paper tried to raise the subject of Putin's extramarital lovelife.
News of the affair (and planned marriage) was first broken in April 2008 by Moskovsky Korrespondent, a tabloid owned by billionaire Alexander Lebedev (yes, that's the same Lebedev taking over the UK press with his recent purchases of The Evening Standard and The Independent).
The gossip spread like wildfire. It was all anyone could talk about. "No wonder," we all said, "no one has seen much of his wife lately." Putin was none too happy when several days later, on a trip to Italy, he was confronted with the rumor by a Russian journalist (who felt, perhaps, more relaxed to ask the tsar uncomfortable questions on foreign territory). The reporter was treated to a typically biting response: "There is not one word of truth. I have always reacted negatively to those who with their snotty noses and erotic fantasies prowl into others’ lives.” The end, right?
Not quite. A few days later, the tabloid shut – ostensibly for financial reasons.