Vladimir Putin and his wife of 30 years Lyudmila Putina had gone on national television to tell the world their marriage was over.
But it appears many Russians still refusing to believe that a Russian president could even contemplate getting a divorce.
People think that Vladimir Putin, 60, and his 55-year-old wife had responsibilities to the Russian people and to God and could never divorce.
Such disbelief is understandable after all, it’s 300 years since the last time a Russian leader annulled his marriage.
That was Peter the Great, who dispatched his spouse to a nunnery.
Vladimir Putin and Lyudmila Putina interview, during an interval at the ballet, was the strangest affair and came across as highly stage-managed.
Up until this interview, the private life of Vladimir Putin had been taboo for Russia’s state media.
Reporters would never dare to ask the Kremlin leader about his marital problems.
On Thursday night, though, a state television correspondent posed the hitherto unthinkable questions: was it true that the president and his wife were living apart? Were they divorced?
It’s hard to believe such uncomfortable quizzing could have gone ahead without official say-so.
The reporter sounded nervous; at one point she apologized for mentioning the D-word – “divorce”.
So why is the marriage over?
Judging from what was said in the interview, it comes down to Vladimir Putin spending too much time at work and Lyudmila Putina’s loathing of being in the public eye. But could there be another reason?
On Moscow radio, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov was asked about “rumors” that another woman had come into the president’s life. Dmitry Peskov denied it, dismissing claims as “gossip, rumors and speculation”.
It’s unclear how the divorce will affect Russia’s perception of their president.
Some Russians will clearly be disappointed that the Kremlin leader is pushing ahead with plans for a divorce.
Yesterday’s edition of Izvestia warns that President Vladimir Putin risks alienating a key section of his supporters – married women.
And yet there has been a degree of sympathy and support for Vladimir Putin in the media and in blogosphere; some Russians praise him for being honest about his private life and his marital problems, and for showing that a Russian president is no demigod: he’s just human, like everyone else.