Did a Russian Journalist Just Out Vladimir Putin’s Secret Daughter By Accident?

Moscow, Russia (GVO) – There’s a woman in Moscow who goes by the name Katerina Tikhonova. She works as the director of the Innopraktika Foundation, which is busy developing a real estate project at Moscow State University that’s estimated to be worth almost $2 billion. This week, on October 22, the news agency Interfax published an interview with Ms. Tikhonova, where she spoke at length about Innopraktika’s work with Moscow State University, explaining how her group is busy “establishing systematic interactions with the business community” and “analyzing” different groups’ opinions about the development project coming together at the school.

But nobody seems terribly interested in Tikhonova’s billion-dollar project. The one question on everyone’s mind was also the thing Interfax never asked her: is she the daughter of Russian President Vladimir Putin?

Speculation about Tikhonova’s “high birth” began in January this year, when journalist Oleg Kashin ran a story on his website claiming as much, following a large investigative report in RBC about Tikhonova’s development project at Moscow State University. Following Kashin’s claims, anonymous acquaintances of the Putin family allegedly confirmed to Reuters and Bloomberg that she is indeed Putin’s daughter. When reporters asked Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, about the rumors, Peskov said ambiguously, “I am unable to assess that.”

Today, following Interfax’s interview with Tikhonova, there seemed to be additional confirmation that she is the President’s child, when Yuri Pogorely, Interfax’s online projects director, intimated her ties to Putin.

Pogorely’s comments occurred on Facebook, in a discussion with Tatiana Lysova, an editor at the newspaper Vedomosti, and Elizaveta Osetinskaya, the chief editor of RBC, who criticized Interfax for the interview with Tikhonova. Midway into the exchange, Pogorely seems to let the cat out of the bag:

Yuri Pogorely: Liza, does Putin’s daughter often grant you interviews? She granted us one on the following conditions: that it would be only about Moscow State University, and that there’d be no photos. We were okay with that.
Tatiana Lysova: And the whole thing was done in written form [over email], it seems.
Elizaveta Osetinskaya: Why didn’t you mention in the text “who” was giving you the interview?
Yuri Pogorely: Tanya, I understand that you and Liza would have told her to get lost, but we as an agency decided that it would be interesting to our wide circle of readers.
Tatiana Lysova: Well, an interview with Putin’s daughter would have been even more interesting to a wide circle of readers.
Yuri Pogorely: I’m talking about the agency’s readers. 🙂
Yuri Pogorely: Don’t forget that our website is just the tip of the iceberg, while your sites [Vedomosti and RBC] are the whole icebergs.
Tatiana Lysova: But did this go out only on the website? Or did it go out to your subscribers, too?
Yuri Pogorely: This one was precisely for our subscribers. They know who Putin’s daughter is.

Many in Russia’s media community interpret Pogorely’s final remark above to be an admission that Tikhonvoa is in fact Putin’s daughter. Ilya Klishin, the chief editor of Dozhd television’s website, called out Pogorely on the comment, which the Interfax editor immediately tried to walk back, claiming to have misspoke.

Yuri Pogorely: Let’s cut the crap. Ilya, I don’t confirm—I deny—[that I know who Tikhonova’s father is], and I think it’s idiocy to ask the Interfax online editor who Putin’s daughter is. Ask the source.
Ilya Klishin: “Yuri Pogorely: Liza, does Putin’s daughter often grant you interviews? She granted us one on the following conditions: that it would be only about Moscow State University, and that there’d be no photos. We were okay with that.” You explained the conditions on which Putin’s daughter gave you an interview. Do you deny this statement? It was said in a public space, not some private post.
Yuri Pogorely: Yes, of course I deny it. And I’m not commenting to Dozhd television, and I’m speaking as a private citizen [not a representative of Interfax].
Yuri Pogorely: Will that be all, Ilya?
Ilya Klishin: I’ve understood you. Thanks.

So did Pogorely let slip that Tikhonova’s relationship to Vladimir Putin is a known secret in the world of informed society, or was he merely speaking out bombastically, perhaps annoyed about the disapproval Interfax’s interview has provoked? Whatever the truth of the matter, Pogorely seems certain that only an idiot would turn to him for answers.