Marie Claire Australia - 01.05.2018

(Ben Green) #1

chance she could win the race, or proof
something more sinister was going on.
After declaring her candidacy, Sob-
chak crisscrossed Russia, passionately
campaigning. In late January, marie
claire joined her in the town of Vladi-
mir, several hours from Moscow. Wear-
ing gold heels, a black coat and glitter-
ing gold jewellery, she was there to make
her case to a new crowd and eager to
deliver her usual rousing stump speech.
Taking to the stage in a spa-
cious auditorium, she listed
Putin’s failures to the crowd
of several dozen people,
mostly students: Russia’s
economy is fading away,
business is sufering from
the Kremlin pressure, bu-
reaucrats have stolen state
money, and the West treats Russia like a
“I am a Russian patriot, but most
things we are proud of in Russia have
nothing to do with Putin,” she said.
Privately, she told marie claire that
she was optimistic and that younger

generations were ready to step up
and lead the way: “I know that cre-
ative Russians can make a diference
[for the country’s future].”
Given the grisly ends met by oth-
ers who have taken on Putin, was she
ever scared? “I am not afraid. I do not
consider fear acceptable,” she replied.
“They can accuse me of anything but not
of being a coward.”
In the end, neither the mood of the
younger generation, nor Sobchak’s lack
of cowardice made any diference.
With seven candidates standing in the
March election, insiders declared the
outcome was a foregone conclusion long
before the first ballot was cast. Putin
ended up winning with
more than 76 per cent
of the vote (albeit amid
the usual accusations
of rigging). His nearest
competitor, millionaire
communist Pavel Grudi-
nin, received about 12
per cent. Sobchak man-
aged less than two per cent. She insists
that her run was fuelled by altruism.
However, critics – even some of her
friends in the liberal opposition – have
argued that Sobchak was a Putin plant,
designed to demonstrate that the presi-
dent had “real” opposition.

“They can
accuse me of
anything but
not of being
a coward”

Clockwise from top:
Natalia Vodianova (right)
and Sobchak (second from
left) at Vodianova’s birthday
party last year; Sobchak at a
bar launch in 2009; and one
of her many Instagram pics.

most likely to be next in line for
Russia’s top job. Her name is Ksenia
Sobchak and she’s a woman with big
presidential plans.
Sobchak’s life story has more
twists and turns than a John le Carré
novel, with mysterious poisonings,
reality shows and police raids. She is
a model turned TV presenter turned
millionaire socialite turned wannabe
politician. Trawl through Sobchak’s
Instagram account and you can see
why her shots of expensive cham-
pagne, private jets and her sultry
selfies helped earn her the moniker
“the Paris Hilton of Moscow”.
But it is the 36-year-old’s next chap-
ter that might be her most shocking, with
reports that the country’s long-term
autocratic ruler, Vladimir Putin – who
easily reclaimed victory in the country’s
March presidential election – is set to
give this former Playboy cover girl a
significant role in his new government,
before finally handing her the reins when
he eventually concedes power.
This is even more intriguing when
you consider Sobchak just ran against
Putin in the Russian elections. Her
announcement of her move into politics
in October last year was remarkable for
a number of reasons. First, entering the
political fray in Russia can be a fatal
decision. Putin has ruled the country
with an iron fist for nearly 18 years and,
at last count, at least 11 political opposi-
tion leaders are alleged to have been
assassinated in an efort to stifle any
threat to his stranglehold on the coun-
try’s top position. Second, Sobchak is
reportedly Putin’s beloved goddaughter.
Depending on who you asked, all of
this meant she was either incredibly
brave and principled, given there was no


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