Swiss media confirmed Saturday that Vladimir Putin is the father of a bouncing baby girl, giving the lie to the Kremlin’s determined efforts to deny the story.
The Russian president’s much younger girlfriend, Alina Kabaeva, delivered the girl “at least a couple of weeks ago” at the Clinica Sant’Anna in Sorengo, Switzerland, a suburb of Lugano, says Corriere Del Ticino, a Swiss newspaper.
But the 62-year-old Putin was not present for his daughter’s birth, according to that newspaper and other Swiss reports.
The local branch of Swiss broadcaster RSI reported that Kabaeva, 31, booked two rooms at the ultra-private clinic, which caters to the rich and famous.
Kabaeva had also been seen recently in the main plaza in Lugano, Switzerland’s biggest Italian-speaking city, another paper, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, reported.
And an unusual number of Russian-registered cars were spotted around Lugano earlier this month, local site Ticino News reported.
The stories add details to a report of the birth in the Swiss tabloid Blick. But the new Swiss reports contradicted Blick’s claim that Putin jetted to Switzerland to witness his daughter’s birth, which it said was last week.
Clinica Sant’Anna has handled high-profile births before.
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s daughter, Barbara, delivered a child there in 2009 to avoid photographers and gossip in Italy.
“It is said that Putin may have chosen [the clinic in] Sorengo on the advice of his friend Silvio Berlusconi,” reported Giornale InInsubria, which covers the lake region of Italy.
The clinic has declined to comment.
The Kremlin has long denied any relationship between Putin and Kabaeva, a former Olympic gymnast and former member of the Duma, Russia’s parliament.
A year ago, Putin finalized his divorce from Lyudmila Putina, his wife of 30 years. He has two adult daughters from that marriage.
On Friday, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, denied that Putin is a father again. He also tried to quash rumors of Putin’s poor health by saying he was tired of hearing reporters ask about it.
“We’ve already said this a hundred times. This isn’t funny anymore,” he told Reuters.
Those rumors were spurred by Putin’s absence from public events in the last few weeks. Putin was last seen in public on March 5, when he met with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
The tiny Russian community in Italian-speaking Switzerland welcomed news of Putin’s love child.
“I’m happy for them,” said Tatiana Tettamanti, secretary for the Russian Church of Switzerland.
But she added, “I feel a bit sorry for Putin’s ex-wife.”