London: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's alleged mistress is planning to release Barbie-style doll of herself in a bid to inspire young children to follow in her sporting footsteps, a media report said.
Alina Kabayeva, the 27-year-old former Olympic gymnast, has already applied to trademark the new doll - 'The Alina doll' - with the Russian patent office and is awaiting a reply, 'The Daily Telegraph' reported.
Her spokeswoman said a final design had not yet been made and that the project was in the early stages. The idea, she added, was for the doll to be handed out to young gymnasts at a children's gymnastic event later this year.
There is no substantive evidence that the 58-year-old Russian PM is romantically linked to Kabayeva, who also is an MP for his ruling United Russia party.
But the alleged affair has long been the hottest gossip topic among Russia's elite despite Putin insisting that there is "not one word of truth" in the allegations.
Kabayeva's spokesman has refused to discuss the claims, deriding them as "nonsense".
The rumour first came to public prominence in 2008 when a Russian newspaper, owned by billionaire oligarch Alexander Lebedev, quoted a source as insisting the story was true. Lebedev shut the newspaper down soon afterwards claiming
it had not been a commercial success.
Putin has rarely been seen in public with his wife Ludmila in recent years, citing a heavy workload.