Russian President Vladimir Putin, famously reticent about his private life, broke silence Sunday on the whereabouts of his two daughters, whose lives are a highly kept secret.
In a rare glimpse into the Russian ruler’s family life, Putin also told the state-run TASS news agency that he could seek to extend his rule through 2024, but that it would be “harmful” for him to remain president for life.
Putin’s daughters — Maria, 29, nicknamed Masha, and Yekaterina, 28, known as Katya — are a mystery to Russians, who do not even know what they look like.
But Putin batted away rumours that they were living abroad, saying he meets them monthly.
“I have a packed work schedule. Even my daughters I only see once or twice a month, and then I need to pick my moment,” Putin said in the interview.
Asked what country his daughters live in, the former KGB officer said: “In Russia, where else?”
“Of course, they live in Moscow. We meet at home,” Putin added.
According to unconfirmed reports this summer, Maria was forced to flee her home in the Netherlands after a missile allegedly supplied by Moscow downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people, mostly Dutch nationals.
The mayor of the Dutch city of Hilversum, which lost several inhabitants in the July 17 disaster, called for her to be deported, before he retracted his “unwise” comments.
Ukrainian activists even published photos and the address of her purported “luxury apartment”, urging people to protest outside.
Yekaterina was reportedly set to marry the son of a South Korean general in 2010 but the rumour was denied by Putin’s spokesman.