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If you watch the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony no doubt the highlight will be the entry of the Olympic torch, its progress from one famous Russian Olympian to another until the final pair take the flame out of the indoor Fisht Stadium to light the massive torch at the center of the Sochi-based venues. Listen out for one name, Alina Kabayeva.

She was among very distinguished and famous Russian Olympians to carry the torch, modeled on a feather from the legendary "Firebird".

Topping the list was tennis star Maria Sharapova. Wrestler Alexander Karelin, a four-time Olympic medalist, was also included. And so was former Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretiak, who was benched during the “Miracle on Ice” in 1980.
Kabayeva was a gymnast and won an individual all-around for rhythmic gymnastics bronze medal at Sydney in 2004 and gold at Athens in the following Olympiad. Many Russian Olympians have both greater medal totals and are more popular in their home country. So what makes her so qualified to be part of one of the most widely watched TV spectaculars? Well for a start, since 2007 she has been a member of the Dumas, Russia's lower house of parliament representing Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, as is another of the torchbearers. Most of all, she has been Putin's mistress for several years.
In mid-April 2008, the Russian paper Moskovsky Korrespondent stated that she was engaged to marry the Russian President Vladimir Putin in mid-June, after he left office. It sourced the news to a St. Petersburg based planner bidding to conduct the wedding reception. On 18 April 2008, in a press conference with Silvio Berlusconi, Putin addressed the article: "There is not a single word of truth [in it]."While Putin had been abroad and unavailable for comment, Kabaeva's spokeswoman had already refused to discuss "this nonsense".

Again, Sept 2013 on comments from The Kremlin rumors circulated of a marriage having recently taken place, but said this was a private matter for President Putin to announce

Her role in the ceremony could have been even more contraversial.
Putin had earlier refuted suggestions that Kabayeva would be afforded the special privileges of wielding the Olympic torch a the opening ceremony.

"I'm aware of this [speculation that Kabayeva will light the flame]," he said. "I was told of this by [Kremlin spokesman] Dmitry Peskov. These are the usual red herrings. We have many outstanding sportspeople who are significant and known in the whole world and I am not going to interfere in this process," he insisted.

Now you may vaguely recall that Putin is married. Well, his wife of 30 years Lyudmila, was dumped fairly unceremoniously last year. Vladimir and Lyudmila went to a ballet performance with him wearing his wedding ring. The emerged with him sans ring to announce they were getting divorced.

Lyudmila obviously did not fit in with Putin's action man image so, like many pols, he has traded her in for a younger and fitter model (in both senses, Kabayeva has featured on the front page of Russian Vogue).

So now we know, the Sochi Olympics are not a showcase for Russia, they never have been. The were a promotion for one Vladimir Putin and now he has used them to very obviously introduce Russians to their new first lady.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 03:47:40 PM PST

  •  Seriously? Who cares who Putin sleeps with? (7+ / 0-)

    Americans are the most prudish people when it comes to sex. Europeans laugh at us over shit like this.

    Lyudmila was not unceremoniously and unfairly dumped. If you bother to read the article, the two of them agreed to divorce because they weren't seeing much of each other anyway, and Lyudmila said she was grateful for his support and that they would always be very close. That doesn't sound like a spurned wife to me.

    What is more than likely the case is that Putin, now a practicing Orthodox Christian, was told by his confessor that he couldn't commit adultery and take Holy Communion. He's not supposed to have any sex outside of marriage  - period - and receive communion, but he can confess and more readily receive absolution if he isn't married. That's all speculation on my part as an Orthodox Christian myself. Take it with the grain of salt it deserves.

    "Some folks rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen." - Woody Guthrie

    by Involuntary Exile on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 04:22:34 PM PST

  •  So Vlad likes him some athleticism huh ? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Involuntary Exile, jayden

         I guess it goes with his Russian Rambo schtick.

    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

    by Azazello on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 04:23:05 PM PST

  •  Is Kabayeva the one who lights the cauldron? (3+ / 0-)

    Or is she just one of the many former Russian Olympians honored with carrying the torch around the stadium during the opening ceremony as mentioned in the diary? It won't ruin it for me to know one way or another! Either way it appears she earned her right to be a participant.

    The significance of the individuals involved in the torch relay and opening ceremony has significance for the host country more so than those watching from other parts of the world which is to be expected.

    Does she become a focal point during the coverage of the opening ceremony or do the NBC announcers just name-drop her several times?

  •  I think it's interesting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am glad for his wife, that she got rid of him.  I am sure she had to wait for him to decide, no one decides for Putin.  I wonder if it's possible to tell him no.

  •  Who cares? Not most people. (0+ / 0-)
  •  Dang (0+ / 0-)

    Russia was supposed to be part of the Empire.  Yeltsin practically guaranteed it.  And then Putin had to wreck it all.  The U.S. was going to pick who would be in the (pro-Empire) Ukranian government.  Fuck the EU.

    Time for a little propaganda offensive.  Drinking water is bad in Sochi, Yeltsin has a mistress, dogs.  Freedom of expression.

    Why should we here at dKos care about or participate in this propaganda offensive?  The ultimate aim of it is to manage the destruction of our middle class.  To cement the position of the intellectual "property" and finance oligarchy at the expense of people who work in manufacturing and in services that cater to the middle class.

    The bigger scandal is right here, back in the U.S.A.  Homeless people here take on the roles that stray dogs do at Sochi.  And drinking water in Charleston, WV may not be yellow, but it smells way worse than the yellow water at Sochi.

    Instead of appearing on the Colbert Report, Pussy Riot should've tried desecrating the Grand Mosque at Mecca.  Then we could've seen what would've happened to them at the hands of that "close American ally", and charter member of the Empire, Saudi Arabia.

    Why aren't people here urging Pussy Riot to go to Mecca?

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 05:38:23 PM PST

  •  More important was the racist who actually (0+ / 0-)

    DID light the cauldron with the torch.  Irina Rodnina, Russian Olympic superstar, thought it was funny to tweet a picture of Obama chewing with a photoshopped banana dangled in front of him.   When confronted with the highly racist nature of the photo she defiantly hid behind freedom of speech.

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