December 21, 2018 / 12:06 PM / a month ago

A new Russian first lady? Putin hints he may marry again

FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during annual news conference in Moscow, Russia December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he’d probably have to get married again, but did not say to whom.

Putin, 66, who jealously protects his privacy and that of his close family, was replying to a question posed by a reporter at his annual press conference, which focused mainly on international relations and the state of the economy.

“As a respectable person, I will have to do this at some point,” Putin said, smiling.

Putin was married to Lyudmila Putina from 1983 until their divorce, announced in 2013.

Their daughters, Katerina and Maria, both in their early 30s, are not involved in politics and have stayed firmly out of the limelight.

Since he divorced his wife Lyudmila, rumours have swirled around Putin’s personal life. One Russian newspaper report said he was in a relationship with Alina Kabaeva, a former Olympic gymnast, though Putin rejected the assertion.

Reuters reported in 2016 that a businessman with ties to associates of Putin had transferred ownership of properties to Alina Kabaeva’s sister and grandmother.

Reporting by Polina Nikolskaya; Writing by Polina Ivanova; Editing by Andrew Osborn

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