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Home >> World
UPDATED: 09:05, June 03, 2005
First lady tells of life with Russian President Putin
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He comes home from work at midnight, never discusses politics or asks for advice, and likes a glass of yoghurt before he goes to bed.

Thus ends an average day in the life of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the woman who knows him best.

Mr Putin's wife, Lyudmila, shed an unusual ray of light on the private life of Russia's first family on Wednesday. The usually media-shy Mrs Putin, 48, portrayed her husband as diligent and strong-willed - if somewhat austere - in an interview with three Russian newspapers published on Wednesday.

Her only complaint, she said, was that her husband was too devoted to his job. "One needs not only to work, but also to live," said Mrs Putin, who met her husband while working as an air hostess and married him in 1983."

"He works too hard," she said. "All members of the family know it and that is why those who want to communicate (with him) wait for his arrival at the table with a cup of the evening yoghurt."

Mrs Putin lamented that Russian women suffered discrimination and pointed out there were no women in the Cabinet. "One can say that the world consists of men and women, but power belongs only to men.

"In my family I have always stood up for my rights and the rights of all women, but I strive not to do it aggressively," she said. "Aggressive (methods), in my view, are not acceptable at any place or time. And they only hurt us women."

The interviews followed a rare solo overseas trip by Mrs Putin to Italy to promote a cultural exchange programme.

The President's image has taken a battering in the past year over the Kremlin's handling of terrorist attacks, welfare reforms, revolutions in former Soviet states, and the trial of the oil tycoon, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Lilia Shevtsova, of the Moscow Carnegie Centre, said: "The Kremlin has to look around for some gimmick to give the President life because he has no vision, design or strategy." Kremlin spin-doctors have already exploited the President's labrador, Koni. "Sooner or later they had to reach beyond the dog and get to the wife," said Ms Shevtsova.

Mrs Putin, however, assured readers that her husband was fully in control and had cut short any attempts to lobby him through his family. "He just made it understood that this is unacceptable," she said. "And I, of course, as is always the case in our family, accepted this position as my own." Mr Putin has never asked his family for advice. "That has never happened," said Mrs Putin.

Source: China Daily


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