Russia’s Putin opens up about grandchildren, appeals for family privacy during live TV show
Putin, who is divorced, has two daughters, Katerina and Maria, and is famously reluctant to discuss them or any aspect of his own personal life
Russian President Vladimir Putin offered a glimpse at his family life Thursday, confirming for the first time that he has grandchildren and saying he wants to keep them out of the spotlight so they can grow up “normally”.
Putin, who is divorced, has two daughters, Katerina and Maria, and is famously reluctant to discuss them or any aspect of his own personal life.
“I have grandchildren. They live normal lives,” Putin said during his annual marathon TV call-in with Russians, confirming a revelation from a series of interviews by US filmmaker Oliver Stone that have been airing in the US this week.
The 64-year-old Russian leader said that one grandchild was “already in preschool” and that “my second grandson was born recently”, which garnered applause in the studio.
But he said he did not want to identify them by name them in order to let them live ordinary lives.
“The thing is, I don’t want them to grow up like hereditary princes, I want them to grow up to be normal people.”
“If I mention ages and names, they would be identified and never left alone,” he said.
Putin’s family life is a taboo subject in Russia, though media outlets have reported on one of his daughter’s business connections and marriage details, as well as her passion for acrobatic rock ‘n’ roll dance.
“My daughters are involved in science and education, they don’t get involved in any politics,” Putin said.
Reuters has reported that Putin’s daughter Katerina works in a senior post at Moscow State University and that she has described herself as the spouse of Kirill Shamalov, a shareholder in petrochemicals company Sibur.
Kirill is the son of Nikolai Shamalov, a longtime friend of the president. Shamalov senior is a shareholder in Bank Rossiya, which US officials have described as the personal bank of the Russian elite.
Reuters has also reported that a number of firms and individuals close to the Kremlin were providing support to a project Katerina oversees at the university, and to the All-Russian Acrobatic Rock’n’Roll Federation, in which she is involved.
The Russian leader divorced his wife Lyudmila in 2014 and she has since vanished from public view. There has been no news regarding his personal life since, but his official tax declaration does not mention any spouse.
Additional reporting by Reuters