Son-in-law to Vladimir Putin lost billions for divorcing the president’s daughter

Kirill Shamalov, the popular Russian billionaire who has been a husband to Katerina Tikhonova (the secretive daughter of Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin), is set to lose billions after separating from the young lady.

Putin's daughter.jpg

Image shows Putin’s secretive daughter, Katerina Tikhonova

Media reports say the business tycoon was stripped of almost half his wealth as a punishment for divorcing one of Putin’s daughters.

Shamalov, who once claimed to be the country’s youngest billionaire, has since been romantically linked with London-based Russian national Zhanna Volkova.

News agency Open Media highlighted romantic pictures of her (Volkova) dancing with a mystery man at a Valentine’s Day party last year. Her suitor’s face was deliberately blurred for confidentiality.

However, there are speculations in the media, especially in Moscow, that the alleged divorce could be a carefully choreographed sham in an attempt to circumnavigate Western sanctions on Putin’s circle.

The Kremlin has adopted its usual policy of refusing to discuss the strongman’s family – just as it never confirmed 31 year old Katerina’s 2013 marriage to Shamalov, son of a long-time Putin crony Nikolay Shamalov.

She is best known for her spectacular “boogle woogle” Acrobatic Rock’n’roll performances in dance competitions yet there have been claims in Moscow that Putin is gradually grooming her as his eventual successor in 2024.

The pair wed in a sumptuous ceremony at Igora ski resort near St Petersburg and the couple rode in a traditional sleigh pulled by three white horses.

All guests were sworn to secrecy, and no official announcements were made, because Putin forbids discussion of his family matters.

The relationship catapulted Shamalov, now 35, to billionaire status, but a key element of his wealth was reportedly held in trust as a Putin family member.

The end of her marriage was reported by Bloomberg citing anonymous sources which claimed the split means the tycoon was forced in April last year to divest a 4.3% stake in Sibur gas and petrochemicals giant which he had been awarded ahead of his wedding to the Russian president’s younger daughter.

He made “zero” from the deal, and as a result has lost his billionaire status, it has been reported.

Sources close to Shamalov denied this version of events, suggesting he suffered from an unlucky investment, but he declined to comment.

As recently as last year his wealth was put at $1.3 billion.

Now it is estimated at $800million dollars by Bloomberg but it may be less because of interest payments on a massive loan, and possible divorce costs, say Moscow reports.

Again, rumors are making rounds that an “epidemic” of divorces in Putin’s circle could be a secret plot to protect his giant family fortunes from new US or EU sanctions.

Putin recently announced he will contest March’s Russian presidential election from which a key opposition challenger Alexei Navalny has been banned from standing.

Putin is overwhelming favourite to secure another six year term.

Under the Russian constitution, he would be disqualified from standing again in 2024, when he will be 71.