The Biden administration on Wednesday announced a new round of sanctions against Russia over its ongoing war in Ukraine, and in direct response to atrocities seen this week in Bucha. Among those sanctioned: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters, Mariya Putina and Katerina Tikhonova.
The sanctions, which were announced in conjunction with the European Union, target numerous entities — including Russia’s largest financial institution, Sberbank, and its largest private bank, Alfa Bank — as well as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s wife and daughter, and members of Russia’s Security Council, including Dmitry Medvedev and Mikhail Mishustin.
“These individuals have enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian people,” the White House said in a statement announcing the new sanctions. “Some of them are responsible for providing the support necessary to underpin Putin’s war on Ukraine. This action cuts them off from the U.S. financial system and freezes any assets they hold in the United States.”
But the sanctions imposed on Putin’s daughters cast a spotlight on the Russian president’s family, which has long been shrouded in secrecy.
So who are Putin’s daughters?
Little is known about the 69-year-old Russian president’s daughters, as the Kremlin has largely shielded them from public view.
According to the Wall Street Journal, both Putina and Tikhonova were born to Putin’s ex-wife, Lyudmila Putina, a former cabin crew member for Aeroflot. Their relationship ended in 2013.
Putina, the Russian president’s elder daughter, was born in Russia in April 1985, before Putin and his wife left for Germany, where he was stationed as a KGB officer. Tikhonova was born in August 1986 in Dresden, Germany.
Putina, who is reportedly a doctor specializing in rare diseases in children, is said to be married to Jorrit Joost Faassen, a Dutch businessman. The couple purportedly lived in the Netherlands until they were expelled from the country after the 2014 downing of a passenger jet by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine, an attack that killed 298 people — including nearly 200 citizens of the Netherlands.
Katerina, an academic who for years competed in acrobatic rock-and-roll dance contests, was reportedly appointed in 2020 to run an artificial intelligence institute at Moscow State University. According to a lengthy 2015 Reuters profile, Katerina described herself as the “spouse” of Kirill Shamalov, son of Nikolai Shamalov, a longtime friend of Putin and a shareholder in Bank Rossiya.
“Among the young couple’s holdings is a seaside villa in Biarritz, France, estimated to be worth about $3.7 million,” Reuters said. They reportedly split in 2018.
Putin rarely talks about them
At his annual press conference in 2015, Putin said that he was “proud” of his daughters while dismissing speculation that they were living overseas.
“They continue to study and work,” he said. “They are just living their lives.”
“To talk about where exactly my daughters work and what they do — I have never done this and am not going to do it now, for many reasons, including security issues,” he added. “They just live their lives and do it with dignity.”
Putin has grandchildren too
In an interview with the Russian state news agency TASS in October 2020, Putin acknowledged that he is a grandfather.
“I have grandchildren, I am happy. They are very good, sweet, like that,” he said. “I get great pleasure from communicating with them.”