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Putin denies 'wedding' rumours; slams paper

By Vinay Shukla in Moscow
April 18, 2008 21:20 IST
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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday strongly denied rumours about his 'plans' to marry a gymnast-turned-politician after quitting his office next month, saying there was 'not a single word of truth' in the story published by a local tabloid last week.

"There is not a single word of truth in what you mentioned," he said, responding to a question about the story of Moskovsky Korrespondent tabloid claiming that Putin plans to wed Olympic rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabayeva on June 15 and has divorced his wife Lyudmila in February.

Putin was addressing a joint press conference with the Italian Prime Minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi at the Island of Sardinia, where the Russian leader stopped over for an informal meeting on his way back from a visit to Libya.

Earlier in the day, Moskovsky Korrespondent acknowledged that its story was based on unsubstantiated rumours and offered apologies.

The tabloid accepted that it cannot substantiate its own report on Putin's 'wedding with a famous gymnast' and apologised for the 'moral pain' inflicted to the persons concerned.

"You mentioned the article in one of our yellow tabloids. In other publications of the sort, names of other successful and beautiful women and girls are mentioned. I think, it would not be unexpected if I say that I like all of them. Just as I like all the Russian women. I hope that none of you would be offended if I say that in my opinion our Russian women are the most talented and most beautiful. Perhaps only Italian women could compete with them," Putin said at the press conference televised live from Sardinia by the state-run Vesti channel.

President Putin thanked God that now nobody asks questions about Chechnya, but underscored that in the absences of spicy stories if someone wants to rummage through the personal life of Russian politicians at least minimum decency should be displayed.

"I am, of course, aware of the beaten phrase and cliche that the politicians live in glass houses. The society, no doubt, has the right to know about the life of public politicians. But there do exist some limitations to this," Putin stressed.

He said there is a 'private life in which nobody has the right to interfere'.

"I always had a negative view of people, who poke their running nose and barge into other peoples life with their erotic fantasies," Putin noted.

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Vinay Shukla in Moscow
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