The European Union is planning to impose sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s alleged gymnast lover Alina Kabaeva for her role in Kremlin propaganda, according to a document.
Kabaeva is a late addition to the list of individuals targeted in the sixth package of measures against Russia in response to the war in Ukraine, after she last month likened the Soviet victory over Nazism in the Second World War to Putin’s invasion.
The proposal identifies Kabaeva as the chairwoman of the board of directors of the National Media Group, a holding company that owns significant shares in almost all major Russian state media that owns significant shares in nearly all major Russian state media that make up Putin’s propaganda machine.
The former gymnast and former Duma lawmaker is ‘closely associated with President Vladimir Putin,’ the document added.
The Russian president, who will turn 70 this year, has since 2008 denied a relationship with Olympic gold-medal winning Kabaeva, now 38. One of the newspapers that has first reported about their relationship closed down soon after.
Another notable figure on the list is the head of the Russian Orthodox Church- Patriarch Kirill, who has given his blessings to Putin’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, despite Eastern Orthodoxy being the predominant religion in Ukraine.
If passed, Kabaeva and Kirill would join a growing list of 1,000 influential Russian and pro-Russian figures that the European Union has already sanctioned. They will face travel bans and asset freezes under the measures.
The European Union sanctions, which also include a ban on Russian oil imports, were submitted on Wednesday by the EU executive to member states for approval, which requires unanimity among the 27 nations.
Hungary, Slovakia, and other eastern European nations are so far refusing the package, holding out for an opt-out or delay to the oil ban.