Ksenia Sobchak, 36, known as “the Russian Paris Hilton,” is running against Vladimir Putin for the Russian presidency.
Sobchak is a former Playboy model as well as a fixture in Russian pop culture. She has been on TV and in movies, and she has her own perfume and fashion lines.
Sobchak, who has no experience in government, has modeled her approach to politics after President Trump. “We all know [the] ‘Trump effect,’” Sobchak told the New York Post.
Trump’s unlikely rise to the world’s highest office has inspired speculation about celebrities — from the Rock to Oprah — throwing their hat in the ring. It seems that trend has gone international.
“Many people would vote for me, I’m quite sure,” Sobchak said. “I know the rules of how brand works.”
Sobchak, who is touring the U.S. in a run-up to the Russian election in March, hopes to show the world that there’s an alternative to Putin. “I want to show the people of Russia that there is another point of view,” she told Russian state-run RT News. “This is the goal of my campaign.”
Putin and Sobchak themselves have loose ties to one another: Sobchak is the daughter of Anatoly Sobchak, the former mayor of St. Petersburg and a political tutor to the young Putin; her mother is a pro-Putin legislator in the upper house of Russia’s parliament. Their family history has led some to suggest that Sobchak is merely a pawn of the Kremlin.
She’s running on an anticorruption platform, however — the only candidate to do so — and under the slogan “Against All,” a Russian idiom for “none of the above.”
Sobchak entered the political fray in 2011 by attending anticorruption protests in Moscow. “I am Ksenia Sobchak, and I have something to lose by being here with you,” she told a crowd of 80,000.
In the resulting government crackdown, Sobchak was run out of her TV hosting jobs, and police raided her home. “Whether it’s prison or exile, they’re out to silence me,” she told the New York Times.
Although Putin is crushing Sobchak in the polls, 68 percent to 1.5 percent, she’s expected to spice up an otherwise unremarkable contest.
Though Sobchak has had her ups and downs with Russian media coverage, she commands a strong following on social media. Her Instagram account has 5.4 million followers.
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