In the couple's first public appearance together since Putin was inaugurated in May 2012, the couple spoke in an interview after attending a ballet in Moscow, RIA Novosti reported.
The president and his wife said the divorce was brought about by the demands of his work.
"All my activity, all [my] work is connected to being in the public eye," he said. "Some people like this, some don't, but there are people who are completely incompatible with this."
Lyudmila Putin said she dislikes "life in the public eye and air travel is very difficult for me. And we hardly see each other."
She said the decision was mutual and told a reporter "you could say this is a civilized divorce."
The couple, who are parents of two adult daughters, said the family is still close, RIA Novosti said.
"Lyudmila Alexandrovna and I will always remain very close, I'm sure of it, forever," Vladimir Putin said.