Russian president Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila reportedly visited the ballet "Esmeralda" at the State Kremlin Palace on Thursday evening, then came outside to announced their divorce on television.
After ballet the couple, who had been married almost 30 years, gave an interview to the Russia 24 state television channel.
Asked whether they were divorced, Lyudmila said it was a "civilised divorce." Mrs Putin was rarely seen in public, last venturing out with her husband at his third presidential inauguration in May 2012. She said the divorce "due to the fact that we barely see each other."
Putin has been linked to former Olympic rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabayeva, who also served served as an MP for Mr Putin's ruling United Russia party. There is no substantive evidence to support the rumor, but the alleged affair has long been the hottest gossip among Russia's elite.
Putin claims there is no truth to the allegations. Asked about longstanding rumors that they no longer lived together, the 60-year-old Putin said, "That is true."