The journalist who claims to have uncovered closely held information about Russian President Vladimir Putin's youngest daughter says her apparent participation in a $1.7 billion university development project made her public coming out inevitable.
"This Moscow State University project is too big and to conceal her participation there was just impossible," Geneva-based journalist and blogger Oleg Kashin told RFE/RL's Current Time news program.
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 in an online report on January 29, Kashin reported that a woman known as Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova, who has been named as head of an organization working with Moscow State University to develop a large patch of ground near its main building in an affluent area in southwest 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 described Tikhonova's role as the director of Innopraktika, the company involved in the project.
The RBC report did not make any specific link to Putin, but mentioned that the previously unknown Tikhonvoa was "increasingly being seen in public."
In the story, Natalia Popova, one of the organizers of the project, speaks glowingly of Tikhonova, saying the idea was "lit by Katerina" and her goal was to create "the most useful structure to contribute to the prevention of brain drain" in Russia.
Kashin noted that after the publication, there was a lot of "winking" on social networks that she may be Putin's daughter. He said he was not the only person with suspicions even before the RBC report.
"It had been a popular Moscow rumor for the last half a year or even more," Kashin told Current Time. "People who had been exposed to this, including myself, either were reluctant to talk about it or were bound by other sorts of obligations."
"It's not that I just guessed, I just knew where to search and what to search for," he added.
He said the RBC report made it clear to him that it no longer made sense to delay going public with the information he had.
The Reuters news agency quoted an official close to the university as confirming Tikhonova is Putin's daughter.
Dmitry Peskov, when asked about the woman's identity, said, "I don't know who she is" and that his job was to "deal with the president, not with his children."
According to Kashin, Tikhonova is also an acrobatic dancer who has performed in Russian and European competitions. Several YouTube videos from 2013 show Tikhonova performing with a male partner in Switzerland and Moscow.
Opposition blogger Aleksei Navalny also published information on his Facebook page linking Tikhonova to Putin.
In the past, the secrecy surrounding Putin's daughters has led to rampant rumors about where they are and what they do.
Following the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, the mayor of the city of Hilversum in the Netherlands called for Maria, who was rumored to be living nearby with her Dutch partner, to be deported.
The South Korean press had long reported that Katerina lived in Seoul with a South Korean admiral who she was planning to marry. The Kremlin has denied the reports.
In an interview in November, Putin said both of his daughters lived in Moscow and he saw them about twice a month.