Russia’s first couple divorcing; Putin biography tells why


Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife of nearly 30 years announced on state television Thursday that they are divorcing.

Those curious about what caused the breakup won’t have to wait for a tell-all book: Lyudmila Putina dished the dirt on her caddish husband more than a decade ago.

Russia’s first couple gave little explanation for their decision to end the marriage in the brief television appearance, other than the president’s assertion that “it was our joint decision.”


Putina, who was rarely seen in public, said only that she didn’t like publicity or flying around for international events.

She was more effusive in detailing her grievances about Putin in long interviews with the president’s biographer more than a decade ago. In the 2002 book “Vladimir Putin: The Road to Power,” Putina candidly observed the failings of the man she met in 1980, couching his shortcomings in the uncomplaining parlance of women of her generation who came to expect little from Russian men -- and often got even less.

The plump blond mother of the president’s two daughters told biographer Oleg Blotsky that Putin routinely arrived more than an hour late for their dates, would criticize the lovingly prepared meals she made for him, and was away on a business trip when their first child was born, forcing her to hail a cab for the hospital while in labor.

His absences and habitual tardiness were clearly wounding even in the early days of their relationship.

“The first 15 minutes would pass normally, and even a half-hour would be OK. But after an hour, I would nearly cry out of humiliation,” Putina told Blotsky of being left to wait at appointed meeting places in the grubby subway stations of Leningrad, as St. Petersburg was known during the Soviet era. “His excuse was always that he had been held up at work, for which, by the way, he was always very punctual. But in his personal life he was sloppy.”

In what was apparently characteristic fashion, Putin brushed off the decision to end the marriage that was one month short of 30 years:


“We practically never saw each other,” he said. “To each his own life.”


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