Alina Kabaeva was a relatively unknown Russian athlete until yesterday. The sudden interest in her stems from the fact that a Russian newspaper announced yesterday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is divorcing his matronly 50-year-old wife, Ludmilla, and is planning to marry the 24-year-old Olympic rhythmic gymnastic champion. Yes, you read that right.

This probably goes a long way toward explaining Putin’s topless fishing trip photos from last summer. The man was definitely strutting his stuff and a lot of woman and gay men were flat out loving it! No one can say that the President of Russia is not fit. Which is undoubtedly a good thing considering that Alina’s reputation is to be unbelievably flexible and agile (see photos and video below). It also probably goes a long way toward explaining how Alina Kabaeva managed to retire from gymnastics at 24-years-old and got an appointment as an MP in Russia’s lower parliament.

Vladimir Putin has kept himself a stable of beautiful young Russian women as part of the deputies in the Duma – Russia’s lower parliament. They are referred to as Putin’s Babes (Putinskie Krasotki). The idea behind this move was to add sex appeal to Putin’s United Russia Party. It seems to have worked as his hand-picked successor won an overwhelming majority of the vote in the recent election. Putin will now be Prime Minister and chairman of the ruling party, United Russia. In other words, this is not the smooth transition of power we are accustomed to here in the United States. Vladimir Putin is not giving up power by any stretch of the imagination.

Meanwhile, the word is that Putin secretly divorced Ludmilla in February 2008. She had been his wife since 1983 which is coincidentally the year that Alina was born. They have rarely been seen together and he’s been seen enjoying the company of the women his lends his patronage to in the Duma and especially enjoying the company of Alina Kabaeva. The couple are scheduled to be married in St. Petersburg on June 15th.

Apparently, Alina’s father was caught by surprise by the news but he was quick to state that he was very happy that his daughter would marry such a great man! Good Russian, that!

I suppose congratulations are in order?

12.14.2010 UPDATE: Alina Kabaeva is being featured on the cover of Russian Vogue’s January 2011 issue, much to the apparently chagrin of the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Originally posted on April 17, 2008.

Alina Kabaeva photos can be found here.

Alina Kabaeva (Video)