Published: Fri, October 20, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Socialite Ksenia Sobchak Announces Bid for Russian Presidency

Socialite Ksenia Sobchak Announces Bid for Russian Presidency

Ms. Sobchak's mother, Lyudmila Narusova, sits in the upper house of the Russian parliament.

"I am a candidate "against everyone".

Sobchak said Wednesday she hopes to appeal to Russians disillusioned with Putin's long rule, slamming what she called Russia's "collapsing education and health care systems", and "monstrous corruption and propaganda".

"I am standing for president", she wrote on a website announcing her bid, declaring that her campaign slogan is "I am the "none of the above" candidate".

She surprised many by joining opposition protests in 2012 against Putin over fraud-tainted elections.

When asked if the Kremlin considers Sobchak as a "worthy contender", Peskov noted that the election campaign for the 2018 presidential race has not kicked off and none of the candidates have been registered.

Sobchak's announcement ends weeks of speculation about her political ambitions.

Sobchak described her plans in detail in a letter to the Vedomosti newspaper.

Sharp-tongued and witty, Sobchak has been often critical of the Russian government.

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History shows that even elections controlled by authoritarian governments "turned into reasons and instruments for authentic democratic changes", she said. "'Yes, it does, and it will be working for it", Putin said. Both Navalny and his chief of staff, Leonid Volkov, are serving 20 days in jail on protest-related charges.

Citing analysts, media said Sobchak's candidacy is seen as a political spoiler, designed to create the semblance of a competitive election and to offer a token candidate to opposition voters who'd rather vote for Putin's top critic Alexei Navalny.

The socialite confirmed the information on Wednesday during a live TV show.

She has since married actor Maxim Vitorgan and they have a son.

She also sent a letter to the daily Vedomosti news site outlining her reasons for running against Putin, who is expected to confirm his candidacy at the Valdai conference October 19, where the Kremlin said he will make "an important announcement". It has organized waves of protests this year, putting pressure on the Kremlin. He has been in power since New Year's Eve 1999, when President Boris Yeltsin announced he was stepping down.

Putin said Thursday at the Valdai forum of foreign policy experts in Sochi that Russia will "momentarily respond quid pro quo" if Washington imposes restrictions on the Russian state-funded RT television network and Sputnik news agency.

She was being drawn into "this fairly loathsome Kremlin game that goes by the title of: 'Let's put a liberal laughing-stock up for the elections in order to distract attention, '" said Mr. Navalny. Sobchak has not commented on the allegation.

A poll published last month by the independence Levada centre found that just 0.4 per cent of Russians believed she could stand for president next year. With approval ratings topping 80 percent, Putin would win in a landslide against torpid veterans of past Russian presidential campaigns, like Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky or liberal Grigory Yavlinsky. Sobchak, who is not backed by a political party, must collect 300,000 signatures to register as an independent candidate.

Navalny has declared his intention to run for president, even though a criminal conviction that he calls politically motivated, bars him from running.

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