London, Apr.17 : Vladimir Putin, 56, is currently the President of Russia and the chairman of the ruling United Russia Party, but rumours are floating around in Moscow that he is likely to tie the nuptial knot with 24-year-old Olympic gymnast and model Alina Kabaeva. According to The Telegraph, the whispers of the romance are particularly scurrilous because Putin has not officially announced any separation from his 50-year-old wife, Ludmilla.
The former KGB spy is reported to have split from his wife two months ago.
Rumours of Putin's courtship of the rhythmic gymnast champion and model, who is now a member of the Russian parliament, have been circulating unofficially for some time.
But only now has the Russian newspaper Moskovski Korrespondent dared to print the gossip, citing a party planner in St Petersburg who claimed to be bidding to organise the couple's lavish wedding reception.
According to the paper, the couple are to marry in mid-June, little more than a month after he steps down as Russian president. One website went so far as to claim that the pair had been seen kissing in a Moscow restaurant.
Born in 1983, in Tashkent, now the capital of Uzbekistan, Kabaeva was reportedly a late starter as an athlete, but progressed swiftly due to her "extreme natural flexibility".
Her physical attributes, much prized in the rhythmic gymnastic world, have seen her clinch several medals. She represented Russia at both the Sydney and Athens Olympic Games.
Her interests appear not to be limited purely to the sporting arena. She has posed for daring photographs wrapped in nothing but furs and has appeared in an action film.
Despite increasingly frantic rumours of a wedding, apparently to take place on June 15 in Putin's hometown of St Petersburg, the Kremlin has so far refused to comment.