Television host Ksenia Sobchak has announced her intention to run in Russia’s presidential election next year in a move many believe is orchestrated by the Kremlin.
Sobchak is a socialite described as “Russia’s Paris Hilton.” She is the daughter of Anatoly Sobchak, the former mayor of St. Petersburg, who picked now-President Vladimir Putin as his deputy in the 1990s.
Ksenia Sobchak said she wants a different Russia that moves closer to Europe if she wins the election.
“Over the past 17 years a whole new generation has grown up that wants to see a different Russia that is civilized and European,” she said in an interview on Russia’s TV Rain, The Guardian reports.
Sobchak’s father has been described as a political mentor to Putin. Russian media have previously reported that the candidacy was planned to steal votes from other opposition candidates.
“This is a lie,” Sobchak said, according to The Guardian. “I have not had any direct or indirect contact with the presidential administration about this. I don’t need their blessings, I can decide what to do for myself.”
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a known Putin critic, received his third jail of the year earlier this month for attempting to organize a rally outside Moscow.
“20 days in jail. Old man Putin got so scared of our rallies in the regions and decided to make himself a little present for himself for his birthday,” Navalny said in a tweet after receiving his sentence.
Putin is expected to win a fourth term in office in the March election. A five-year suspended embezzlement sentence makes Navalny ineligible for the presidency. (RELATED: Russian Opposition Leader Banned From Running Against Putin)
Navalny and his business partner allegedly misappropriated around $500,000 worth of lumber from a state-owned company, according to a 2013 ruling. Navalny claims the case was fabricated to stop him from advancing his political career.
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