MRS. PUTIN MIA
Traditionally Russians don’t pay much attention to first ladies, but even they are mystified by Lydmila Putina’s absences. By Anna Nemtsova.
There were no street celebrations, no memorable concerts, no fireworks, not even a word on the main news channels. Russians did not mark the 55th birthday of their first lady, Lyudmila Putina, last Sunday. Instead, those who did not leave for Egypt or Thailand for the official two-week new-year break were passionately discussing every step made by a new Russian citizen, the scandalous Gérard Depardieu. Last year the Internet carried the occasional question (“Where did Lyudmila Putina disappear?”) or strange claim (“Putin Hides His Wife in a Monastery”). This year Russians forgot even to mention her.
Russians are mostly indifferent to the wives of their leaders, and in turn the first ladies rarely seek or share the limelight with their husbands. But even by those standards, Vladimir Putin’s wife has always been a shadowy figure.