How Lyudmila Shkrebneva Went From Post Office Worker To Vladimir Putin's Ex-Wife

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Although Vladimir Putin is one of the most powerful men in the world and is often in the spotlight, he likes to keep his personal life private. The public knows, however, that Putin was once married.

Vladimir Putin met Lyudmila Shkrebneva when she was working as a flight attendant for Aeroflot. She had a layover in Leningrad, where she spent a few days. It was there, according to ABC News, that Vladimir and Lyudmila met when they were both invited by a common friend to watch a comedian perform. Lyudmila and Vladimir started dating soon after. "I was used to life as a bachelor, but Lyudmila changed that," Putin once said in his Kremlin biography.

Vladimir and Lyudmila wed in 1983 and have two daughters together. Lyudmila graduated from Leningrad State University in 1986 and is reported to be a qualified linguist. For a while, she worked as a German instructor. Later, she stood by her husband's side and fulfilled her duties as first lady when Putin became president (via The Famous People).

Apparently, their marriage wasn't without the typical spousal horn-locking. According to UPI, Lydumila's best friend, Irene Pietsch, wrote a book and quoted the Russian First Lady as saying that "Unfortunately, my husband is a vampire, but he is just the right man for me," and mentions Putin not liking Lyudmila's fascination with horoscopes and saying that if anyone could spend three weeks with his wife, then they "deserved a monument."

Lyudmila's early life

Lyudmila Shkrebneva was born in Kaliningrad — a city in Western Russia that sits on the Pregolya River —in 1958 to a working-class family. Her father worked at a mechanical plant and her mother was a cashier. In her younger years, Lyudmila was said to have excelled in literature and the Russian language. She was especially interested in reading poetry and would also write poems herself. She also had aspirations of becoming an actress. Lyudmila was a good student and often participated in school events and contests, as reported by Culturell

After finishing high school, Lyudmila went on to study at Kaliningrad Technical University. She then worked at her local post office before being an apprentice at a machinery plant. She also worked as a nurse before she became a flight attendant. After having different work experiences, Lyudmila eventually decided what she wanted to pursue and enrolled at Leningrad State University — now known as Saint Petersburg State University — to study different languages at the Department of Philology (via 24 Celebs). She was in her third year at the university when she met Putin. Later she would go on to work other jobs which included teaching German, working in a clothing store, and as a representative for a telecommunications company in Moscow.

In the mid to late 1980s, the Putin family lived in Dresden, East Germany where Vladimir was stationed by the KGB. Lyudmila worked as a linguist while Vladimir Putin — working as a secret agent — used the cover story that he was a translator.

Vladimir Putin's unusual marriage proposal

In 2000, the book "First Person: An Astonishingly Frank Self-Portrait by Russia's President" was released. It's a compilation of in-depth interviews about Vladimir Putin, and one of the people who shared details about him was Lyudmila Shkrebneva. In it, Lyudmila stated that she thought Putin was "poorly dressed" the first time she met him. Three years after that meeting, however, Putin proposed to her. The proposal was not extravagant in any way. In fact, Lyudmila revealed that she had no inkling about what he was about to do at that time, and she even thought that Putin was talking to her about ending their relationship.

The couple was more than three years into their relationship when the proposal took place. They were in Putin's home when he told Lyudmila that he was not an easy-going person and was a "risky life partner." He continued by saying that after nearly four years together, she must have already made up her mind about him, as noted by Express. To Lyudmila, it sounded like the conversation was going to end with Putin dumping her. She told him that yes, she has made up her mind. Putin then said, "Yes? Well then if that is the way it is, I love you and propose we get married" (per India Times).

Vladimir and Lyudmila divorce

Through Vladimir Putin's rise to power, Lyudmila stayed away from the spotlight and rarely showed her face to the public. As a report from the Independent noted, a Russian designer who dressed Lyudmila for special occasions revealed that the first lady was not prepared for a life in politics when it was thrust upon her. "She was not ready for this role. Being a president's wife came down on her unexpectedly," the designer reportedly said.

After almost 30 years of marriage, Vladimir and Lyudmila announced their joint decision to dissolve the marriage in 2013. Before their official announcement, there were already rumors of a separation, as Lyudmila was rarely seen in public with Vladimir. Still, the divorce announcement came as a surprise, as it was not common practice for high-ranking politicians to end their marriage while in office. As RT reports, Putin was the first Russian president to divorce while still in position.

During their announcement, the former couple said that it was a "civilized divorce." They also shared that they barely spend time together as husband and wife, and they lived their lives independently. Lyudmila added that she and Putin "will always be friends," with Putin agreeing, "forever, I am sure."

Per the Independent, in 2016, it was reported that Lyudmila married a businessman named Artur Ocheretny, who worked at an events agency. The couple moved to France and bought a $7.46 million villa. It was reported that the pair have known each other since the early 2000s.