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Leonid Bershidsky

Being a Daddy Might Be Good for Putin

The gossip about Vladimir Putin's new baby, born in Switzerland, probably isn't true, but I wish it were.
Back to basics.

Back to basics.

Photographer: MILHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images

It increasingly seems that Russian President Vladimir Putin's disappearance from public view was carefully staged. Although he still hasn't surfaced after a week-long absence, there's reason to believe Putin's disappearing act was an instance of paternity leave. It's probably not true, but I wish it were.

According to the Swiss tabloid Blick, it's the talk of Ticino -- the country's southernmost canton -- that former champion rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabaeva recently gave birth at a private clinic in the region called Sant'Ana. (The facility, in the town of Sorengo, was once used for the same purpose by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's daugher, Barbara.) Blick had no proof, and neither did the far more serious Neue Zuercher Zeitung, which sent a reporter to the town, a suburb of Lugano, to investigate.