Putins make an appearance to prove marriage is still going strong

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Russia's prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his wife, Lyudmila, made a rare joint public appearance over the weekend seeking to reaffirm their marriage amid persistent rumours of divorce.

In a video posted on the government's website yesterday (pictured) the couple jointly answered questions from a census-taker who visited their residence outside Moscow as part of a nationwide population count. Mr Putin, 58, who stepped down as President in 2008 to become Prime Minister, has been married to Lyudmila, 52, a former air hostess, since 1983. They have two daughters.

The Putins have rarely been seen in public in recent years, raising media speculation that they had secretly divorced and that Mr Putin planned to marry an Olympic champion gymnast, Alina Kabayeva, who was born the same year the Putins got married. Shortly before stepping down as President, Mr Putin dismissed the rumours, telling journalists to keep their "snotty noses" out of his private life.

In the new video, the Putins tell the census-taker they are married. "I am his wife," says Lyudmila, looking slightly awkward and constantly adjusting her dress. She seems nervous, her eyes frequently blinking, when asked whether her marriage is registered.

Later in the video, Mr Putin tells his wife she is "not modest" after she says she can speak German, Spanish and French. "But it is true," she says.

Mr Putin's spokesman said the divorce rumours were "nonsense" and the couple were rarely seen in public because of Mr Putin's "immense workload".