Lyudmila Putin, Russia’s Former First Lady

The PutinsWhen Lyudmila stood alongside her husband Vladimir Putin on Russian state TV to confirm that “our marriage is over,” just before their 30th anniversary, it was a rare glimpse into the private life of Russia’s soon-to-be-former first lady.

Such is the secrecy surrounding the Russian president, a former KGB agent, that little is known about Lyudmila or their two children.

Putin often cuts a lone figure at public events. His wife tended to accompany him only for high-profile occasions, such as voting in last year’s presidential elections. She has also been seen with him at Orthodox Christmas in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior, now famous as the stage for all-woman punk group Pussy Riot’s anti-Putin performance in 2012 that landed some of them with prison sentences.

Lyudmila was born on January 6, 1958, in Kaliningrad, formerly Königsberg.

Putin’s website is uncharacteristically forthcoming about how they met. A mutual friend invited him to a concert in St. Petersburg, promising that there would be girls that night. “And so there were girls,” Putin recalled, with his future wife among them. He returned to the theater the following night and “this time I got the tickets,” he said.

Putin was already working for the KGB, and the young Lyudmila was charmed. “There must have been something about Volodya [Vladimir],” Lyudmila said on the website, “since in three or four months I had decided that he was the very person that I needed.” Putin had decided if he did not marry soon, he “would not marry at all,” and they tied the knot in July 1983.

Lyudmila studied Romance languages and literature at Leningrad State University and later received awards for promoting Russian language and culture.

She and Putin had two daughters – Maria, born in 1985, and Ekaterina, born in 1986 – but little is known about them.

Toward the end of their relationship, Lyudmila was a distant figure. Celebrations for her 55th birthday this year saw no public celebrations and barely a mention in the media.

Source: Albina Kovalyova, Producer, NBC News

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