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Elusive Daughter Of Putin 'Found' By Russian Reporters

News reports and Russian bloggers say one of President Vladimir Putin's daughters, who have been kept out of the public eye for years, is a key figure in a $1.7 billion development project at Moscow State University.

Putin has made reporting on his private life taboo and shielded his daughters Maria, 29, and Katerina, 28, from media scrutiny as if their lives were a state secret.

But journalist and blogger Oleg Kashin said in an online report on January 29 that a woman known as Katerina Tikhonova, who heads an organization working with the university on a project to develop a large patch of ground near its main building in Moscow, is Putin's daughter Katerina.

"Putin's daughter has been found," Kashin wrote.

His posting followed a report by independent Russian media outlet RBC that said Tikhonova is the director of Innopraktika, a company involved in the project.

The RBC report made no link to Putin, but the Reuters news agency quoted a source close to the university as confirming Tikhonova is Putin's daughter.

Reuters quoted Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, when asked about the woman's identity, as saying, "I don't know who she is" and that his job is to "deal with the president, not with his children."

With reporting by Reuters