Russians reeled Friday from the shock announcement by President Vladimir Putin that his 30-year marriage was over, a break-up that was long an open secret but few imagined would ever be made public.
In a highly choreographed joint interview with state television after
attending a ballet performance together, Putin’s wife Lyudmila said they were having a “civilised divorce” and revealed that the pair hardly ever saw each other.
Lyudmila said she was grateful to Putin for supporting her, while Putin
praised the fact she had “stood guard” for the almost nine years he has served as president.
“We are always going to be very close to each other. I am sure, forever,” said the Russian strongman.
It was an extraordinarily frank statement for any Russian politician, whose private lives are generally out of bounds. But particularly for Putin, who lives in such secrecy that he has never been officially photographed with his two adult daughters.
The news came too late for most of the daily newspapers on Friday or for
the main evening news on Thursday. Those newspapers that did run the story gave it muted coverage.