Putin says his daughters avoid the limelight

Katerina Tikhonova (L), daughter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, dances with Ivan Klimov during the World Cup Rock'n'Roll Acrobatic Competition in Krakow, Poland April 12, 2014. Picture taken April 12, 2014. REUTERS/Jakub Dabrowski

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is notoriously protective of his family’s privacy, made a rare reference to his two daughters on Thursday, saying they lived in Russia and stayed clear of business and politics.

But he avoided saying where they worked.

“They are taking the first steps in their careers, but are making good progress. They are not involved in business or politics,” Putin said of his daughters, Maria and Katerina.

“They have never been ‘star’ children, they have never got pleasure from the spotlight being directed on them. They just live their own lives,” he told an annual news conference.

“They live in Russia ... They have never been educated anywhere except Russia. I am proud of them, they continue to study and are working. My daughters speak three European languages fluently.”

He cited security concerns for not giving any further details about them.

Reuters reported last month, citing multiple sources who know her, that Katerina was working in a senior post at Moscow State University and that she had described herself as the spouse of Kirill Shamalov, a shareholder in petrochemicals company Sibur.

Katerina uses the surname Tikhonova, derived from the name of her grandmother, according to the Reuters report.

It also found that a number of firms and individuals close to the Kremlin were providing support to the project Putin’s daughter oversees at the university, and to the All-Russian Acrobatic Rock’n’Roll Federation, in which she is involved.

Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova, Alexander Winning and Christian Lowe; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Richard Balmforth