Photo: Francois Durand / Getty
Meet Kseniya Sobchak, the daughter of a prominent politician with ties to Putin, famous for hosting a popular tv show in Russia and christened “Russia’s answer to Paris Hilton” by the New York Times.There’s a funny thing about Russia’s premier “It Girl”: Vladimir Putin got his start in politics working with her father, Anatoly Sobchak, St Petersberg’s first democratically elected mayor. “His role in the establishment of a new Russia was colossal,” Putin said just 2 years ago on the tenth anniversary of Anatoly’s death.
Putin’s love for his mentor was so great that he helped him escape from the country in 1998 to escape corruption charges — a reward, perhaps, for helping to shape the clan that went on to create “Putinism”.
Unfortunately for Putin, Kseniya isn’t her father.
At the huge anti-Kremlin rallies in Moscow on December 24, Kseniya appeared. “I’m Kseniya Sobchak and I have something to lose,” she told the crowd.
As Olaf Koens at the Moscow News notes, she may be the most important Putin critic yet. Just two years ago in an interview with the Guardian she refused to mention Putin, saying only “[Putin] did a lot for my family then and I am proud he was a friend of my father.” At the time some were even announcing that her political ambitions were was a Kremlin-backed ploy.
Now that’s changed.
“[Putin is] not a bad person,” she recently said on Russian TV. “Do you know what the problem is with the opposition? Everyone’s trying now to find a new Putin. But what we actually need is a new system in which there can be no Putin.”
That even people who appear to have profited so much from Putin’s Russia seem willing to denounce it is a big step — and she knows it.
“Everybody now knows I’m on the side of the protesters, and the Western press will probably write that it’s an important sign if even a society girl like myself joins the movement.”
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