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MYSTERY surrounds a reported divorce between Vladimir Putin's rock'n'roll dancing daughter Katerina Tikhonova and Russia's "youngest billionaire".
Tycoon Kirill Shamalov has been stripped of almost half his wealth as alleged punishment for the alleged split after he was linked to glamorous Russian socialite Zhanna Volkova, it is claimed. 
The scandal arose after she was pictured dancing amorously with a mystery man at a Valentine's Day party last year.
Her suitor's face was deliberately covered in a smiling emoji but what could be seen resembled Shamalov, according to news agency Open Media.
Neither Shamalov nor Volkova - whose social media suggests she lives in London - has commented on the report.
The Kremlin has adopted its usual policy of refusing to discuss Putin's family - just as it never confirmed 31-year-old Katerina’s 2013 marriage to Shamalov, son of long-time Putin crony Nikolay.  
Katerina is is best known for her spectacular her "boogle woogle" performances in dance competitions but there are claims Putin is grooming her as his eventual successor in 2024.
She and Shamalov pair wed in a lavish ceremony at Igora ski resort near St Petersburg and the couple rode in a traditional sleigh pulled by three white horses.
All guests were sworn to secrecy, and no official announcements were made, because Putin forbids discussion of his family matters.
The relationship catapulted Shamalov, now 35, to billionaire status, but a key element of his wealth was reportedly held in trust as a Putin family member. 
He was reportedly gifted a 4.3 per cent stake in gas and petrochemical giant, Sibur, ahead of his wedding to the Russian president's younger daughter.
Anonymous sources have since told Bloomberg that he was forced to give up those stocks last April.
He made "zero" from the deal lost his billionaire status as a result, it has been reported.
Sources close to Shamalov denied this version of events, suggesting he suffered from an unlucky investment, but he declined to comment.
As recently as last year his wealth was put at $1.3billion (£910million). 
Now it is estimated at $800million (£561million) by Bloomberg but it may be less because of interest payments on a massive loan and possible divorce costs, according to reports from Moscow.
Speculation has also pointed to an "epidemic" of divorces in Putin’s circle, alleging such moves can be made to protect giant family fortunes from new US or EU sanctions.
Comments from Russians say Shamalov has taken a huge risk in splitting from Putin’s daughter.
"Shamalov must be have balls of steel," said one, while another added: "He must be thanking God and all his saints that he is alive and free." 
Reports last year suggested Putin is quietly grooming Katerina for possible "tsardom" to takeover from him.
Katerina has her own business career running key investments for Moscow State University.
"Trying to run a woman through an election campaign in Russia is quite an interesting and modern political experiment," wrote Putin biographer Natalia Gevorkyan.
"Putin does not have a [male] heir - at least officially - but he has two daughters, and one of them, Ekaterina, has already entered the public space with several huge and costly projects," she wrote for Radio Svoboda website.

Katerina’s sister Maria, 32, is reportedly married to a Dutch businessman with whom she has a daughter, making Putin a grandfather.
Putin has said previously of his daughters from his marriage to ex-wife Lyudmila: "They are taking the first steps in their careers, but are making good progress.
"They are not involved in business or politics. They have never been 'star' children, they have never got pleasure from the spotlight being directed on them. They just live their own lives."

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