Russians like to keep everything in the family, or so it seems after it was revealed that the final torch bearer for the 2014 Sochi Olympics was none other thanAlina Kabaeva, a woman widely regarded as president Vladimir Putin's former girlfriend on the side.
During the Opening Ceremony for the Sochi Olympics, Russian and international media were surprised to see Kabaeva up there as the final torch bearer, since her athletic record is described as “mediocre” by Radar Online, when compared with that of other Russian athletes.
Kabaeva won a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics that took place in Athens and a silver medal in Sydney, back in 2000. However, she joined the stage on Friday with three-time gold medalist wrestler Aleksander Karelin, two-time gold medalist track star Yelena Isinbayeva, three-time gold medalist hockey goalie Vladislav Tretiak, and tennis player Maria Sharapova.
Commentators of the event quickly pointed out that her presence there was merely a result of her “friends in high places.”
The interesting thing is that Putin has been denying the relationship with the pretty gymnast for several years now. He has to, because the former Russian president is posing as a happily married man, despite reports that his marriage has since fallen into a state of disarray.
For Kabaeva, this isn't the first time she's been given prestigious roles. With a little push, she was featured as Vogue's debut cover girl in 2010, without any real prior modeling experience and she was even given a position on the Russian State Duma, which is Russia's parliament.
One year after she joined the political class, she gave birth to a son, but she has yet to reveal the name of the father.
Rumors that Kabaeva would be present in the process of presenting the Olympic Torch had circulated in the Russian press some time prior to the event, but Putin dismissed them on several occasions, stressing the fact that he had no say in the selection process.