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The 'son of Vladimir'
The boy in the image is said to be Dmitry Vladimirovich Kabaev, who is estimated to be 10-12 years old. Social media users were quick to point out the facial similarities between the Russian President and the boy, with some comparing him to photos of Putin as an adolescent.
Jason Jay Smart, a Kyiv Post correspondent, wrote:
Dmitry Vladimirovich Kabaev. His middle name means 'son of Vladimir.' Allegedly he is the son of Putin. What do you think?
Another user pointed out that the boy shares the same middle name, or patronymic, as the Russian President, whose full name is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.
Does this 12 year old look like Putins son? This photo shows the 12-year-old son of Alina Kabaeva, who is considered Putin's mistress.
Or is he the son of Priest?
However, the claims remain unverified, according to Newsweek's Misinformation Watch.
The claim seems to originate from the Facebook account of Konstantin Borovoy, a former Russian MP. He wrote in Russian:
Dmitry Vladimirovich Kabaev, the son of Alina Maratovna Kabaeva (unmarried). Trillionaire. Photo from 2021 (the boy is 10-11 years old)
However, Borovoy did not provide any evidence to support this claim. And some are sceptical, highlighting the fact that the child has brown eyes (while Putin and Kabaeva have grey-blue eyes).
Several Russia-focused journalists have provided another theory, that the boy is actually the son of Russian Orthodox Priest, Ioann (Ivan) Nefyodov, who he has been pictured with in other photographs.
Andrey Zakharov, an independent investigative journalist, wrote in Russian:
In fact, this is the son of the head of the department of liturgical books of the Russian Orthodox Church publishing house, Ivan Nefyodov. And Nefyodov, unlike Putin, reveals the presence of family needs in deeds, and not just in words.
Newsweek has not been able to confirm the identity of either boy, or whether it is actually the same child. It also determined that the photograph is far more dated than claimed. It is not from 2021, rather it was published as far back as December 2018.
In addition, the boy's apparent age could make it even more unlikely that he is the son of Putin and Kabaeva. The alleged 'secret girlfriend' of the Russian President stated in 2013 that she did not have any children. In 2015, reports claimed she had given birth to a daughter, and in 2019 to twin sons, which would contradict the theory that the boy is Putin's 'secret son'.
Putin's 'secret girlfriend'
It comes as Kabaeva was last seen in December 2022 in a rare public appearance at the opening of a sports centre. She was photographed at the event wearing a 'Z' insignia brooch. The letter symbolises ‘victory’ and has come to represent the Russian military.
A gynaecologist who apparently assisted at the birth of Kabaeva's sons told the Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung in 2022 that Putin was their biological father.
- Newsweek: 'Is Vladimir Putin's 'Secret Son' with Ex-Gymnast Seen in Church Photo?'
- Kyiv Post: 'Putin’s Mistress Snapped Wearing ‘Z’ Brooch in Rare Appearance'