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Putin's Girls Having La Dolce Vita Break

Published: August 9, 2002 (Issue # 793)


MOSCOW - At the personal invitation of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the two teenage daughters of President Vladimir Putin are frolicking at one of Europe's fanciest sea resorts on monthlong summer vacation.

Maria, 17, and Yekaterina, 16, are swimming, suntanning and sightseeing around Sardinia during the day and spending the night at Berlusconi's luxurious La Certosa summer residence on the northern coast of the island, the Corriera Della Sera newspaper reported this week. Keeping them company is the prime minister's daughter Barbara, who speaks Russian.

A diplomat at the Italian Embassy in Moscow confirmed the report Wednesday.

News of Putin's daughters vacationing on the invitation of one of the richest men in Europe provided a rare insight into the jealously guarded private life of the Putin family. While Putin's wife, Lyudmila, makes occasional public appearances as the country's first lady, Putin has gone to great lengths to keep his daughters out of the limelight.

Maria and Yekaterina grew up in East Germany, where Putin worked as a KGB officer in the 1980s. Maria was born in St. Petersburg and Yekaterina in Dresden.

A Kremlin spokesperson refused to comment on the whereabouts of the president's daughters on Wednesday.

"We only have information about the president's work," the spokesperson said.

The Italian diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Putin's daughters were vacationing in Italy.

"They are in Sardinia. However, there has been no official information about that," the diplomat said.

Maria and Yekaterina Putina are not the only guests at the La Certosa residence. Berlusconi's favorite singer Mariano Apicella is vacationing with them at the prime minister's invitation, Corriera Della Sera said.

The newspaper said Berlusconi is not only relaxing but also trying to lose some weight ahead of the wedding of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's daughter at the end of the month.

The Italian leader had a chance to check out Putin's Bocharov Ruchei summer residence earlier this year when he flew down to the Black Sea resort of Sochi for an informal meeting.

Corriera Della Sera said Barbara Berlusconi cut short a trip to Australia to welcome her Russian friends to Italy. Barbara, who is the same age as Maria, goes to a lyceum in Monza, outside Milan. Upon graduation, she intends to study management at the University of Milan.

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