We all know that it won’t end well for Vladimir Putin.
When you start your third term by ordering troops to fire tear gas at protesters, shut down thirteen subway stations to keep fresh waves of protesters from rolling in, and ignore your nation’s swelling crescendos of disgust, Vladimir Putin’s future can’t help but absorb Russia’s bleakness.
This bleakness has already settled in on Putin’s marriage. His wife, Lyudmila Putina, appears to be hidden away from any meaningful public view.
Rumors swirl in the absence of definitive information on the whereabouts of Lyudmila Putina and her precise role as Russia’s first lady.
Perhaps she is under virtual house arrest, closeted away in a mansion on the grounds of the Yelizarov Monastery on the outskirts of Pskov near the Estonian border. We don’t know.
Rarely does Lyudmila Putina appear in public. The former Aeroflot flight attendant was last seen on March 4th.
Perhaps the rumors of her husband’s dalliances come into play. Vladimir is said to be smitten with former spy Anna Chapman.
Another object of Putin’s affections may be Alina Kabayeva, a former Olympic gold medalist.
While Ms. Putina’s situation is awkward, it is not unusual.
During the 28 years Leonid Brezhnev ruled the Soviet Union, his wife, Viktoria Petrovna Brezhneva, was kept under similar wraps, and endured the pain of her husband’s mistress and child living under the same roof.
Nikita Kruschev’s mistress was somewhat more visible. Yekaterina Furtseva served as the USSR’s Minister of Cultural Affairs.
Josef Stalin, according to his biographer Simon Sebga Montefiore, was “a promiscuous and faithless serial seducer and libertine.” At one point, while in his 30s, Stalin cavorted with a 13 year old mistress.
During his two years as Chairman of the People’s Commissars of the USSR, Vladimir Lenin probably couldn’t handle the physical challenges of a mistress.
By then he had suffered two bullet wounds and three strokes. But in healthier days, starting in Paris in 1911, Lenin’s mistress was the Bolshevik feminist Inessa Armand, who died in 1920. Lenin’s wife, Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya, passed away in 1939.
And so, Vladimir Putin carries on this dictator’s unctuous tradition, tarnished with infidelity, buttressed with cheesecake, and careening toward the classic denouement.
Vladimir Putin can arrest political opponents such as Sergei Udaltsov, Boris Nemtsov, and Alexeri Navalny.
He cannot quiet the dissonant whispers. And he cannot forestall the inevitable solution to the mystery of Lyudmila Putina.