“It was a joint decision,” Putin said during the interview with Rossia-24 television that ended years of speculation about the state of their marriage.
“Our marriage is over, really because of the fact that we practically never see each other,” added Lyudmila who stood next to Putin in the interview.
“It really was our joint decision. Vladimir Vladimirovich is completely drowned in work, our children have grown up and they are living their own lives,” said Lyudmila.
“I really do not like publicity. Flights are difficult for me and we practically do not see each other,” she added.
The pair made the stunning revelation after together watching the classical ballet “Esmeralda” performed by the State Kremlin Ballet company at the State Kremlin Palace.
“All my life and work are linked to being open about things. Some people like this, others do not,” said Putin, explaining the announcement. His spokesman Dmitry Peskov, contacted by AFP, also confirmed the divorce.
Constant rumours have swirled around Putin’s private life but until now there has been a total taboo over discussing it in mainstream Russian media.
A Moscow newspaper reported in 2008 that he was about to marry Olympic gymnast turned legislator Alina Kabayeva, 31 years his junior. The report was denied and the publication closed down shortly afterwards.
Putin and Lyudmila have been seen together extremely rarely in the last years and their last public appearance appears to date back to May 2012 after Putin was inaugurated for a third term in office.