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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 10th November 2017 > Russia’s Trump

Russia’s Trump

Ksenia Sobchak wants to go from reality TV to presidential politics. And why not?


KSENIA SOBCHAK’S INSTAGRAM isn’t your usual presidential candidate’s social media feed. Snapshots of five-star hotel breakfasts, selfies of Sobchak hanging out in a helicopter and fashion shots of the blond socialite posing in a diaphanous sequined dress don’t exactly suggest a person ready to wrest power from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Yet in late October, the 35-year-old former reality-TV presenter and Playboy cover girl declared she would stand against Putin in next year’s elections as the candidate of not only Russia’s liberal, Western-leaning intelligentsia but also, as Sobchak puts it in a campaign video, “everyone who is fed up with the thieving and abuse of power.”

Sobchak’s campaign is more than just political—it’s personal. Her late father, Anatoly Sobchak, was mayor of St. Petersburg in the early 1990s, and one of his deputies was an unknown former KGB lieutenant-colonel named Vladimir Putin. Sobchak senior’s administration was a beacon of Western-style reform—and Putin was the behind-the-scenes fixer for Russia’s most liberal city government. “There’s no question that [Putin] betrayed her father’s legacy,” says a close friend of Ksenia Sobchak. “Her political career is, for her, a way of honoring his memory.”

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