Russian daily that reported Putin's marriage plans suspended

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Moscow, Apr 19 : The Russian daily Moskovsky Korrespondent which a couple of days ago carried a news report claiming that Russian President Vladimir Putin had divorced his wife and was planning to marry his party MP and a former gymnast who was less than half of his age, has been suspended.

Though the official reason cited for the paper's closure is "financial" crisis.

Alina Kabayeva (24) an Olympic gold medalist in rhythmic gymnastics has been voted in polls as one of Russia's most beautiful women.

Yesterday, Putin (56) had bluntly dismissed rumors that he had secretly divorced his wife and was planning to marry Alina. "What you are saying has not a single word of truth," the New York Times quoted Putin as saying while addressing a joint press conference along with Italy's prime minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi.

He castigated the press for intruding into the private lives of public figures. "Society has the right to know how public figures live. But even in this case, there is a limit: private life, which no one has the right to trespass. I have always disliked those who, with their infected noses and erotic fantasies, break into other people's private affairs."

Putin further said Moskovsky Korrespondent was not the first to speculate on his personal life. "In other such publications other successful, beautiful young women and girls have been mentioned," he said and quipped: "I don't think it will be a surprise if I say that I like them all, because they are all Russian women."

Putin has been married to Ludmilla Putina (51) since July 1983, two months before Alina was even born. The couple has two grown daughters, but Putin and Mrs. Putina are not often seen together in public, which has long fueled rumors that Russia's president has had a wandering eye.

Alina has been a Member of Parliament since she was selected for a seat late last year by Putin's party United Russia. She has not spoken publicly since Thursday, when the article appeared and its claims were picked up and circulated by newspapers and Web sites in Russia and beyond.

Her spokeswoman threatened legal action against Moskovsky Korrespondent if it did not run a correction.

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