The US has placed Vladimir Putin’s daughters on its latest sanction list after allegations of war crimes from their father’s forces in Ukraine.
While Vladimir Putin may be the name on the lips of the world right now, not much is known about his two daughters with his former wife Lyudmila Putina, from whom he divorced in 2013, and a possible third, secret daughter.
Putin is notoriously tight-lipped about his daughters, saying in 2008 that he has “always disliked” those who “break into other people’s private affairs.”
But, being Putin’s offspring, Maria Vorontsova, 36, and Katerina Tikhonova, 35, were always going to be in the public interest.
Maria, the oldest, who also goes as Maria Fassen, is a paediatric endocrinologist and one of Russia’s top experts on dwarfism.
The US said on Wednesday that Ms Vorontsova “leads state-funded programs that have received billions of dollars from the Kremlin towards genetics research and are personally overseen by Putin.”
Her early life was in East Germany, where her father served as a KGB agent. It is there that she reportedly showed great aptitude for the sciences at school as a young child.
Maria continued in Moscow as a teen, before going on to study biology at St Petersburg State University. She is married to Russian-born Dutch businessman Jorrit Faassen and the couple reportedly now live in Moscow.
Katerina, a former rock’n’roll dancer, enrolled at the same university as Maria and graduated with a degree in Asian studies, specialising in Japanese history, also holding degrees in physics and mathematics.
She is now director of Innopraktika, a $1.7bn project to create a science centre at Moscow State University. Katerina is also deputy director of the Institute for Mathematical Research of Complex Systems at the same institution.
She was married for five years to gas company executive Kirill Shamalov, Russia’s youngest billionaire and son of the co-owner of Rossiya Bank.
The US described Ms Tikhonova as a “technology executive whose work supports the GoR [Russian government] and defence industry.”
But more peculiarly, she has a penchant for rock ‘n roll dancing. In 2015, Reuters disclosed that a participant at a World Rock’n’Roll event was in fact Putin’s daughter.
She also served as the vice president for expansion and marketing at the World Rock and Roll Confederation (WWRC), the body which organises competitions worldwide.
Putin has publicly spoken about his daughters only a handful of times. In a 2015 press conference, he stunned all when he said: “They studied only at Russian universities. I am proud of them. They continue to study and work.”
Reuters reported in 2017 that Putin said he wanted his grandchildren to have a normal childhood.
“My daughters are involved in science and in education. They don’t interfere in anything, including politics. They live normally,” he said.
The Russian leader also allegedly has a secret daughter, 18-year-old Luiza Rozova. She is the daughter of multimillionaire Svetlana Krivonogikh, 45, once a cleaner and now one of Russia’s wealthiest women.
The suspicion that Luiza was Putin’s daughter from an extra-marital affair was raised by an independent media outlet in Russia, now barred from operating by authorities.
Neither Luiza nor Svetlana have confirmed or denied the claims although Luiza, also known as Elizaveta, told Russian GQ that she ‘probably’ looks ‘similar’ to Putin in his younger days.