Voice

Pussy for Putin … and Now, Wendi Deng

Is Vladimir Putin really getting “serious” with Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife?

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“Whatever why I’m so so missing Tony,” Wendi Deng once wrote to herself. “Because he is so so charming and his clothes are so good. He has such good body and he has really really good legs Butt … And he is slim tall and good skin. Pierce blue eyes which I love. Love his eyes. Also I love his power on the stage … and what else and what else and what else …” She was, apparently, writing about Tony Blair, and the suspicions that she was following through on her fantasies about the former British prime minister that destroyed her 14-year marriage to Monty Burns impersonator, Rupert Murdoch.

But, aside from the tall thing, she could easily have been writing about Volodya, otherwise known as Vladimir Putin. According to a report in Us Weekly, Wendi Deng and Putin are not only dating, they are “serious.”

Is it true? As much as I trust Us Weekly’s dogged reporting, it really would be hard to know if the rumors are true.

On the one hand, it could make lots of sense. It would seem Putin fits the profile of the kind of man Deng goes for: powerful, rich, and in possession of pierce blue eyes and really really good legs Butt. It could also be a great way to stick it to Rupert: You may be married to a sex symbol of yesteryear, but my man is not only rich but has nuclear codes and regularly shakes up the geopolitical stage as if it were an Etch a Sketch. This month she was seen vacationing in St. Bart’s on the boat of Russian oligarch — and noted yacht gifter — Roman Abramovich. And, as one Russia watcher pointed out on Facebook, Putin has been wanting to strengthen relations with China.

On the other, Wendi Deng isn’t exactly Putin’s type. Today, we’ve also learned of a different new woman who may or may not be Putin’s riding partner.

Meet Alisa Kharcheva, 23.

Back in 2010, she had just graduated high school and was beginning her studies in journalism. In October, a few of her fellow journalism students posed for a calendar for Putin’s 58th birthday. They donned lingerie and heels, and, pouting and posing, advertised sexy political slogans. “Vladimir Vladimirovich, you’ve put out the forest fires, but I’m still aflame!” said one mischievous blonde.

“Vladimir Vladimirovich, how about a third go?” asked a curly brunette, referring to the speculation in those years that Putin would come back for a third term in 2012.

Kharcheva had perhaps the most banal slogan of the bunch, pouting, “Vladimir Vladimirovich, you’re the best!”

But it was her bust on the cover of the calendar, into which the words “We Love You” were gently nestled.

According to his spokesman, Putin was said to have seen and liked the calendar. “The girls are beautiful,” the spokesman said.

But Kharcheva wasn’t done. She decided to use the attention and her media skills to wish Vladimir Vladimirovich well yet again. In 2012, for Putin’s 60th birthday, Kharcheva posed alone in a project titled “Pussy for Putin.” Leaning forward coquettishly over a portrait of Putin, she snuggles a black kitten in her deep, red décolleté.

“I think that he is a magnificent man, a strong leader, and the ideal leader of the country,” Kharcheva wrote. She thought about what to give this glorious man for his birthday. What do you give the man who has everything? “I remembered that he (just like me) also loves animals, but I’d never heard that he had a beloved cat,” she wrote. “I found a wonderful little kitty to give the president. I believe that she will bring Putin only luck and will be accepted by all his other domestic animals.” She had already sent a formal notice to Putin’s office but posted her phone number on her LiveJournal entry just in case. “Until Vladimir Vladimirovich decides to pick up his gift, the kitty will live with me,” she wrote.

No one knew if Vladimir Vladimirovich picked up that specific kitty, but today we discovered that he may have picked up the other one in the photo. In a much-anticipated report in the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, it was revealed that a number of women in Putin’s life have received lavish gifts of top-of-the-line Moscow real estate. (This, by the way, is the report that had Putin’s spokesman in convulsions this week, threatening to sue the pants off a shadowy group of journalists preparing a report on Putin’s childhood friends.)

According to the report, a shadowy businessman who runs the corporation of Arkady Rotenberg (Putin’s childhood buddy) functions as an executor for financial transactions Putin would rather not make in his name. This St. Petersburg businessman, Grigory Baevskiy, purchased an apartment for Putin’s daughter next to the Russian president’s residence outside Moscow; a 2,500-square-foot apartment for the sister of Alina Kabayeva, the gymnast with whom Putin is said to have a relationship and two kids; and a house built on some of the most expensive land in Moscow for Kabayeva’s 81-year-old grandmother.

The last lady beneficiary of Putin’s realty largesse? Kharcheva. According to the report, Baevskiy got her an apartment and underground parking spot in what’s known as Moscow’s Beverly Hills. Kharcheva denied that Putin had anything to do with her real estate purchase. If Deng issued a similar denial, it would, of course, sound much more plausible. She’s probably got the cash to afford it.

Photo credit: Alisa Kharcheva/LiveJournal

About the Author

Julia Ioffe is a contributing writer to Politico Magazine and Huffington Post's Highline. She was a senior editor at the New Republic and was the Moscow correspondent for Foreign Policy and the New Yorker from 2009 to 2012.

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