If you watch the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony no doubt the highlight will be the entry of the Olympic torch, its progress from one famous Russian Olympian to another until the final pair take the flame out of the indoor Fisht Stadium to light the massive torch at the center of the Sochi-based venues. Listen out for one name, Alina Kabayeva.
She was among very distinguished and famous Russian Olympians to carry the torch, modeled on a feather from the legendary "Firebird".
Topping the list was tennis star Maria Sharapova. Wrestler Alexander Karelin, a four-time Olympic medalist, was also included. And so was former Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretiak, who was benched during the “Miracle on Ice” in 1980.Kabayeva was a gymnast and won an individual all-around for rhythmic gymnastics bronze medal at Sydney in 2004 and gold at Athens in the following Olympiad. Many Russian Olympians have both greater medal totals and are more popular in their home country. So what makes her so qualified to be part of one of the most widely watched TV spectaculars? Well for a start, since 2007 she has been a member of the Dumas, Russia's lower house of parliament representing Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, as is another of the torchbearers. Most of all, she has been Putin's mistress for several years.
In mid-April 2008, the Russian paper Moskovsky Korrespondent stated that she was engaged to marry the Russian President Vladimir Putin in mid-June, after he left office. It sourced the news to a St. Petersburg based planner bidding to conduct the wedding reception. On 18 April 2008, in a press conference with Silvio Berlusconi, Putin addressed the article: "There is not a single word of truth [in it]."While Putin had been abroad and unavailable for comment, Kabaeva's spokeswoman had already refused to discuss "this nonsense".Her role in the ceremony could have been even more contraversial.
Again, Sept 2013 on comments from The Kremlin rumors circulated of a marriage having recently taken place, but said this was a private matter for President Putin to announce
Putin had earlier refuted suggestions that Kabayeva would be afforded the special privileges of wielding the Olympic torch a the opening ceremony.http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/...
"I'm aware of this [speculation that Kabayeva will light the flame]," he said. "I was told of this by [Kremlin spokesman] Dmitry Peskov. These are the usual red herrings. We have many outstanding sportspeople who are significant and known in the whole world and I am not going to interfere in this process," he insisted.
Now you may vaguely recall that Putin is married. Well, his wife of 30 years Lyudmila, was dumped fairly unceremoniously last year. Vladimir and Lyudmila went to a ballet performance with him wearing his wedding ring. The emerged with him sans ring to announce they were getting divorced.
Lyudmila obviously did not fit in with Putin's action man image so, like many pols, he has traded her in for a younger and fitter model (in both senses, Kabayeva has featured on the front page of Russian Vogue).
So now we know, the Sochi Olympics are not a showcase for Russia, they never have been. The were a promotion for one Vladimir Putin and now he has used them to very obviously introduce Russians to their new first lady.