Rumours: Alina Kabayeva, who some claim is having an affair with Vladimir Putin
As her Kremlin strongman husband Vladimir prepares to once more take up his nation's Presidency, speculation is mounting as to why she is never seen by his side.
Some say an affair with spy-turned-lingerie model Anna Chapman, which has been strongly denied, is the reason the former Aeroflot-hostess is now rarely seen out in public.
Other tongues say he is still seeing former Olympic gold medallist Alina Kabayeva, claims also heavily rebutted, but who he was alleged to have fathered a child with.
A third theory is his 54-year-old love is 'locked away' in a £1million state-built guest house in the grounds of the ancient Yelizarov monastery outside Pskov - close to Estonia's border.
She is rumoured to have moved back to his native St Petersburg while he remained in the capital Moscow.
Sociologist Olga Kryshtranovkaya said Putin was merely copying Soviet leaders who hid their wives from view.
The one exception, she said, was Mikhail Gorbachev whose wife Raisa played a higher-profile role during the 1980s - but that led to criticism from ordinary Russians.
She told The Times: 'For Russia, the status of First Lady is different than in Western countries. It's our mentality about the role of women, unfortunately.
'The first change was with Gorbachev and it was a very unsuccessful example from the Russian point of view.' Putin, 59, will be inaugurated on May 7, then fly to the U.S. on May 18 for the annual G8 summit of world leaders.
Although being undeniably tough on his marriage, speculation that former KGB agent Putin is 'seeing' flame-haired beauty Chapman will certainly do no harm to his image.
It culminated when last month she appeared on the catwalk at Russian Fashion Week in Moscow clothed in a skin-tight leather ensemble.