Russia's Putin lifts veil on grandchildren


Moscow (AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered a glimpse at his family life Thursday, confirming for the first time that he has grandchildren and saying he wants to keep them out of the spotlight so they can grow up "normally".

"I have grandchildren. They live normal lives," Putin said during his annual marathon TV call-in with Russians, confirming a revelation from a series of interviews by US filmmaker Oliver Stone that have been airing in the US this week.

Putin said that one grandchild was "already in preschool" and that "my second grandson was born recently", which garnered applause in the studio.

But he said he did not want to identify them by name them in order to let them live ordinary lives.

"The thing is, I don't want them to grow up like hereditary princes, I want them to grow up to be normal people."

"If I mention ages and names, they would be identified and never left alone," he said.

Putin's family life is a taboo subject in Russia, though media outlets have reported on one of his daughter's business connections and marriage details, as well as her passion for acrobatic rock 'n' roll dance.

"My daughters are involved in science and education, they don't get involved in any politics," Putin said.

The Russian leader divorced his wife Lyudmila in 2014 and she has since vanished from public view. There has been no news regarding his personal life since, but his official tax declaration does not mention any spouse.