'I Never Discuss My Family': Who Are Putin's Daughters, Target of US Sanctions?
Little is known about his younger daughter, dancer Katerina Tikhonova, and even less so about Maria Vorontsova.
Six weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it's raining sanctions, again.
In light of the horrific evidence that has emerged from Bucha with respect to the killing of Ukrainian civilians, the United States on Wednesday, 6 April, slapped another round of sanctions on Russia.
Putin has kept his personal life away from Russian politics and media. In his own words, as quoted by the BBC, "My daughters live in Russia and studied only in Russia, I am proud of them. They speak three foreign languages fluently. I never discuss my family with anyone."
But thanks to the latest US sanctions, Putin's two daughters are back in the limelight.
A press release issued by the US Treasury included Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova and Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova, "the daughters of Russian President Putin," on the sanctions list.
Both were born to Putin and his ex-wife Lyudmila Putina. The termination of their marriage (reportedly mutual) was announced publicly on 6 June 2013.
The wife of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Maria Aleksandrovna Lavrova, and his daughter Yekaterina Sergeyevna Vinokurova are also on the list.
The sanctions press release describes Putin's daughters in a concise manner:
"Tikhonova is a tech executive whose work supports the GoR and defense industry. Vorontsova leads state-funded programs that have received billions of dollars from the Kremlin toward genetics research and are personally overseen by Putin."
In this article, however, we take a more detailed look at Tikhonova and Vorontsova. Who are they? What do they do?
Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova
Putin's elder daughter is Maria Vorontsova. She was born in 1985 in Saint Petersburg (then known as Leningrad) and studied biology at Saint Petersburg State University and medicine at Moscow State University.
Vorontsova attended a German school in Dresden in the 1980s, because Putin at the time was a KGB officer based in the city up till 1989.
She is as a paediatric endocrinologist, according to MIT Tech Review, and has co-authored a book on stunted growth in children.
Additionally, Vorontsova is officially listed as a researcher at the Endocrinology Research Centre in Moscow.
Apart from her academic credentials, Vorontsova is also involved in business.
According to BBC Russia, she is a joint owner of a company that is planning to construct a huge medical facility.
She was once married to businessman Jorrit Joost Faassen (they reportedly divorced), an employee of the Russian state energy giant Gazprom, the majority shareholder of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
With respect to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Vorontsova reportedly supports her father's decision. She also does not trust international reporting of the war, according to the BBC.
Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova
Katerina Tikhonova, born in 1986, is the younger daughter of Putin, and was born in Dresden when the latter was working as a KGB spy.
Tikhonova uses the surname of her maternal grandmother.
Being a dancer, she has garnered much more public attention compared to her older sister. Videos from her dance competitions are available on YouTube.
One such video is from the 2013 Winterthur World Championship that has been viewed almost 2 million times. In that event, held in Winterthur, Switzerland, she and her partner came fifth.
In 2014, at the Russian Championship, they ended up in second place.
Like her sister, she studied at Saint Petersburg State University and Moscow State University, and has a master's degree in physics and mathematics.
She was married to Kirill Shamalov (sanctioned by the UK in 2022), the son of Putin's friend Nikolay Shamalov.
Her ex-husband was sanctioned by the US in 2018 for "operating in the energy sector of the Russian Federation economy," as stated by the US Treasury press release at the time.
The department had also stated that Shamalov's "fortunes drastically improved following the marriage".
Due to the outrage sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, two Russian activists were arrested after they occupied a luxury villa in Biarritz owned by Shamalov. You can read more about that here.
Tikhonova reportedly works in academia (neurotechnology) and is also a businesswoman.
She has worked at Moscow State University in the past, and in 2020, she became the head of a new $1.7 billion "artificial intelligence issues and intellectual systems" institute at the MSU, according to The Guardian.
Tikhonova has never mentioned her father during her rare media appearances.
(With inputs from BBC, BBC Russia, The Guardian, and MIT Tech Review.)
Topics: Russia Ukraine Crisis
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