Marie Claire Australia - 01.05.2018

(Ben Green) #1


returned to the presidency in a likely
rigged election. Organisers of one
rally asked Sobchak – with her vast
fan base – to speak to help attract
more attendees. She took to the stage
at the anti-Putin rally, standing shoul-
der to shoulder with activists who had
spent months in Russian prisons for
their political activity. The crowd before
her roared in fury. Protesters whistled
to demonstrate their disrespect for the
spoilt child of the Kremlin’s elite.
Undeterred, she was quickly
anointed one of the opposition’s leading
figures and started a relationship with
one of the most radical revolutionaries,
Ilya Yashin. Several months later, eight
men knocked on the door of the upscale
apartment building where she lived.
Over six hours, they tore her apartment
apart, humiliating her by making her go
to the bathroom with a guard, and read-
ing love letters from a former flame in
front of Yashin. They also left with
€1.5 million in cash. ‘‘Whether it’s pris-
on or exile, they’re out to silence me,” she
told The New York Times.
Those who’ve weathered long years
in the opposition wilderness tentatively
welcomed Sobchak’s new-found political
passion. “I am glad Ksenia joined us,”
opposition leader Boris Nemtsov said in
an interview in 2012. “[But] she proba-
bly does not realise how dangerous this
political path can be.” (Two years later,
Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minis-
ter, was murdered outside the Kremlin
wall, shot six times in the back.)
Sobchak’s evolving political views

continued to negatively impact her life,
even afecting her blossoming career in
the media. In 2012, she fronted a new
series, an MTV Russia talk show called
GosDep (or State Department), which
was set to cover hot-button political and
social interviews. It was cancelled after
only one episode, reportedly due to
government pressure.


espite her
political lean-
ings, there are
many who are
adamant Sobchak has a
bright, Putin-approved
political future. The pres-
ident will be 71-years-old by the end of
his fourth term in oice and the likeli-
hood of retirement is high. However, he
would need to find an anointed succes-
sor, a politician who would nominally
represent a more liberal shift to mollify
the people, but who would also be
enough of an ally to guarantee he would
not face prosecution for alleged crimes
and corruption he may have been
responsible for while in oice.
Sobchak could turn out to be that
successor. The argument goes that her
family’s ties and her relatively moderate

views would make her a highly attrac-
tive inheritor of the Kremlin.
“Yes, I think [Putin really will
retire],” Sobchak has said. “It’s just
hard to convince him that there’s an
exit and ... that nothing like what hap-
pened to ... [former Libyan dictator
Muammar] Gaddafi would happen to
him. He is really afraid of that.”
Sobchak has made it clear she
doesn’t believe in “retribution”, a view
that would go some way to reassuring
a retreating Putin.
Moscow insiders, including Sob-
chak’s own family, have speculated
what high-powered role Putin might
have for “Ksiusha” after his May inaugu-
ration. Zygar – Sobchak’s former boss at
TV Rain – told marie claire, “Everybody
I spoke with, even Ksenia’s mum, was
convinced that Putin will give her a big
role in the government.”
Tatyana Felgenhauer, a famous
Russian journalist who
was stabbed in a
newsroom at Echo of
Moscow radio station last
year, tells marie claire
that she can see Putin
giving Sobchak an even
more significant post. “I
won’t be surprised if
Putin makes her a minister or a gover-
nor,” she said. “What would surprise me
[is] if Sobchak turned down [a job from
Putin] and promised not to [take] a
Kremlin promotion. I would respect
[her] then.”
While there are a vast number of
unknowns in this situation, Sobchak’s
ambition is plain. A few years ago, she
sat down for an interview at her own
restaurant in Moscow, admitting that
she adored the “powerful Iron Lady”,
Margaret Thatcher. “[And] I do have
iron balls,” she asserted.

Clockwise from far left:
Sobchak with her politician
father, Anatoly, in 1993;
at the first meeting in
Moscow with supporters of
her #againstall campaign;
Sobchak ’s own family have
speculated what role Putin
might have in mind for her.

“I think [Putin
will retire].
It’s just hard
to convince him
there’s an exit”


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