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After a ballet performance on Thursday night President Putin told a journalist on Russian television that his marriage with Ludmila was over.
Both Putins said it was a mutual decision.
“All my activity, all [my] work is connected to being in the public eye,” Putin said.
“Some people like this, some don’t, but there are people who are completely incompatible with this,” he said, adding that Lyudmila had borne the burden of being a first lady for nine years.
“This really was our mutual decision,” Lyudmila added.
“I really do dislike life in the public eye and air travel is very difficult for me. And we hardly see each other.”
The couple has not been seen together for a long time, making public appearances very rarely.
The absence of the first lady has spurred widespread speculations over the past few years, with both – domestic and foreign media- commenting on the rarely seen couple.
“We all have very good relations, and I’m very grateful to Vladimir Vladimirovich for still being supportive of me, and the children,” Lyudmila said.
“He takes very good care of the children, and the children always feel this.”
Russian social networks have been abuzz with comments focusing again on a decade old rumour about Putin’s love affair with Alina Kabaeva, one of Russia’s most successful rhythmic gymnasts.
In 2008 the president dismissed the rumours.