The Russian scientist never once mentioned the war in Ukraine, but neither did her father
Two days before the turn of the year, a 42-minute interview with her was published on YouTube Maria Vorontsovahis eldest daughter Vladimir Putin. Yet it went largely unnoticed – Russian media and netizens took notice almost two weeks later, on January 11.
The 38-year-old Vorontsova answered various questions on the #ProNauku (For Science) podcast, which is aimed at young scientists and start-ups. The questions were posed by Vyacheslav Sulenin, head of the Moscow Center for Innovative Technologies, who introduced Vorontsova as a leading researcher in National Research Medical Center for Endocrinology of the Russian Ministry of Health and as deputy dean of the Department of Basic Medicine at one of the country’s leading educational institutions, Lomonosov State University in Moscow,
Who is Maria Vorontsova?
However, since the media got news of the interview, the video counted hundreds of thousands of views. Vorontsova spoke about issues related to science, medicine, as well as her research in the field of genetics – noting on the occasion that in Russia “human life is still the highest value for us”.
The scientist did not say a word about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and not once did she mention her father.
The Kremlin keeps everything related to President Putin’s relatives secret – in fact, even he has never confirmed that Vorontsova is indeed his eldest daughter. However, in all official documents published by the Russian media, the latter appears as Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova, born in 1985. And the Russian president always emphasizes that he is proud of his two daughters, and that they are not involved in either politics, nor with the economy. Of course, as journalists found out, Vorontsova founded the Nomeco company in Moscow in 2019, which invests billions in the development of technologies in the health sector.
According to information from the group of the imprisoned Alexei Navalny, Vorontsova made 232 million rubles in dividends as a shareholder of Nomeco – in 2020 alone. More recent data is not available. In addition to these, he receives a salary of 700,000 rubles a month from Nomeco.
According to Navalny’s team, all the money available to Nomeco came from SOGAZ Medizina – a company whose clinics have treated prominent Russian politicians and businessmen from Putin’s inner circle. In August 2022 top Nomeco executives bought the clinics.
In her interview, Vorontsova also talks about certain moments in her life, explaining how she dreamed of becoming a doctor as a child, but when she finished school she wanted to study economics. In the end, of course, he ended up in medicine and enrolled in the Department of Basic Medicine at Moscow State University.
Lover of the arts and sports
Vorontsova also mentioned her interest in literature, music and sports: “My interests are quite varied: from creativity to sports. Everything that is beautiful excites me: paintings, museums, theaters, music. Music is an important part of my life, both classical and jazz. And I try to devote some hours a week to sports, even seasonal sports like surfing or skiing.”
Putin’s daughter lived and studied for some years in Germany and then in Russia, while with her ex-husband she also lived in the Netherlands until 2015. But then she returned to Moscow.
After the start of the Russian invasion the EU, Great Britain and the USA they imposed sanctions on both daughters of the Russian president, freezing their bank accounts and banning them from entering those countries.
Reactions in Russia and Germany
However, the interview caused several angry reactions in Russia. Journalist Andrei Sakharov wrote on social media that Vorontsova “acts worried, speaks in clichés. Ask the experts to find out how much the ring she’s wearing costs.’
The reactions of the German media were similar. “Putin’s daughter gives a strange interview about the ‘value of human life’,” headlined an article in Der Spiegel, with German journalists criticizing Vorontsova for not mentioning the war in Ukraine at all.
This was not her first media interview. This particular one, however, could indicate that in view of the presidential elections in March, Putin is somewhat differentiating his communication strategy, observes communication expert Joe Grebel. Putin has always done what other authoritarian leaders do. The expert describes the classic message of the Russian president as follows: “I am here for the whole people. I don’t have such mundane things to worry about, like a small family.”
But Putin quickly realized that he needed to modernize his communication tactics. “What looks good? In certain doses, as we understand, enough to give the impression that he himself has a family or at least that he has children and that his daughter is even a doctor, a recognized scientist”, explains Grebel.
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