Friday, 22 February, 2019

Russia's Paris Hilton on presidential bid against Putin

Ksenia Sobchak Ksenia Sobchak
Melinda Barton | 19 October, 2017, 01:38

Ksenia Sobchak, the socialite, journalist, former opposition figure and daughter of Vladimir Putin's political mentor, announced her candidacy for president on Wednesday, courting a protest vote in a presidential bid that appeared to be officially sanctioned by the Kremlin.

Russia's answer to Paris Hilton, TV personality Ksenia Sobchak, says she plans to run for president next year, offering liberal voters an alternative to President Vladimir Putin.

Ksenia Sobchak, shown here in 2012, gained her celebrity status by hosting a TV show.

Ms Sobchak conceded she was an unlikely candidate and said she supported opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is barred from standing.

"I made a decision to exercise that right", she continued.

"When I was 18 and was studying in university, Vladimir Putin became president of Russian Federation".

He was a co-author of the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the first democratically elected mayor of Saint Petersburg.

"I had an impression he didn't like it", she told Dozhd TV. It has been rumored, though never confirmed, that Sobchak is Putin's goddaughter. In September, the Vedomosti newspaper said the Kremlin was eager for Sobchak to act as a "sparring partner" for Putin at the polls.

Opinion polls show Mr Putin, who has dominated Russian politics for almost two decades, will comfortably win re-election if, as most observers expect, he decides to seek what would be his fourth term in March.

The social-media savvy opposition leader Alexei Navalny also says he will also run in the presidential race.

Ms Sobchak has already faced criticism, with some pundits suggesting her candidacy could please the Kremlin by diluting voter apathy without actually threatening Mr Putin. Her participation will likely split the protest vote from Navalny, the magazine said.

She would be the first woman candidate in 14 years, a point which her campaign video in a kitchen underscores.

Sobchak, who has not announced her campaign team, will have to gather at least 300,000 signatories across at least 40 regions by January 6, 2018, to secure the right to run in the election.