Putin's Ex-Wife's Messages Detail Unhappiness as First Lady: Navalny Probe

Aides to Alexei Navalny, the jailed critic of Vladimir Putin, have produced a film they say lays bare personal feelings of the Russian president's ex-wife.

Previous videos and reports by Navalny's team have exposed corruption among Russia's elite. Although Navalny is serving a nine-year sentence, his team has continued its work with its latest release, which it says highlights the personal life and wealth of Russia's former first lady.

The investigation said that Lyudmila Putina, 64, who remarried following her 2013 divorce and now goes by the surname Ochertnaya, started an online journal seven years earlier, when her former husband was in his second term in power.

The team's probe concluded that biographical details revealed on the LiveJournal blog that a user named "Illenaa" had started in 2006 match publicly known facts about Putin's ex-spouse.

Vladimir Putin and his former wife
An investigation by the team of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny says it has uncovered an online journal his former wife Lyudmila Putina started in 2006. Above, Putin and Putina at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow on June 6, 2013. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/Getty Images

For instance, both have the same birthday; both are from St. Petersburg, where they studied philology; and both have two daughters, one of whom is a dancer.

The film's narrator says that "there are very small details that completely rule out any coincidence."

Among them are accounts that both owned white toy poodles and both went to a strip show in the Reeperbahn district during a visit to Hamburg, Germany. This supports an account in a book by a German journalist that said Putin and his friends once visited an erotic show there.

After outlining the journal's bona fides, the film presents readings of posts showing how the former first lady felt about her position. The narrator said the journal showed that Putina "is openly bored and has nothing to do." She also unsuccessfully tried to find a hobby, such as yoga and psychology, and sometimes slept until 5 p.m.

According to the film, the journal is "littered with pseudo-psychological online tests," including questions like "What tattoo would work for you?," "What your beauty looks like" and "What kind of drink you are in sex?"

One post, from December 22, 2007, and titled "Mother Russia," has resonance now, the narrator suggests. It said that "some bastard wrote that a crisis awaits Russia...lies! Russia is awaiting a great future and prosperity."

This prompted a comment from one user that "war will break out" and that "they will be looking for traitors...and using people as cannon fodder," in what the film suggests could be a nod to the Ukraine war, in which Russian forces have suffered large losses.

The former first lady then defended Putin's policies as "independent and effective" and said that her "acquaintances work in this sphere" as she responded to comments about issues like child care allowances and teacher salaries.

In detailing a seemingly unhappy relationship, the film alleges that Putina also wrote how her husband "sucked all the juice out of her" and that in November 2006 she asked for advice on how to survive arguments and a breakup.

As well as alleging she kept the online journal, the Navalny team's investigation said that Putina owns two apartments in Spain and, with her new husband, Artur Ocheretniy, a 450-square-meter villa on the French Riviera. It is worth €5.3 million ($5.4 million), according to a 2017 report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

Newsweek contacted the Kremlin for comment.