The woman Russian President Vladimir Putin may be dating could light the Olympic flame during Friday’s opening ceremony at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Alina Kabayeva, the 2004 Olympic rhythmic gymnastics champion, “has long been rumored to be Putin’s lover,” but their “alleged relationship with Kabayeva have never been confirmed officially.”
After divorcing his wife Lyudmila last year, Putin is officially single, and said this week that he was “aware of the speculation” that Kabayeva would light the flame.
“I was told of this by (Kremlin spokesman) Dmitry Peskov. These are the usual red herrings,” Putin said in Sochi, according to AFP. “We have many outstanding sportspeople who are significant and known in the whole world and I am not going to interfere in this process.”
Putin has already ruled himself out, saying, “I do not represent winter sports, I am just a fan.”
The Sochi organizing committee is looking to select “a successful Russian sports star of international fame,” and Kabayeva would technically qualify.
Observers are saying it would another of Putin’s “honey badger” moves should Kabayeva actually light the Olympic flame.