Ksenia Anatolyevna Sobchak is a Russian socialite and liberal journalist who today (October 19) announced that she would challenge Russian President Vladimir Putin in next March’s general election. What is her background?
The 35-year-old is the second child of Anatoly Sobchak and Lyudmila Narusova.
Both of her parents were politicians and her late father Anatoly Sobchak was the first democratically elected mayor of Saint Petersburg, with Putin acting as his deputy.
Putin has spoken of his political debt to Sobchak, who was his mentor.
Sobchak has said that she has Jewish heritage, but does practice the religion.
The socialite was a student at the Saint Petersburg State University in the Department of International Relations.
From 2001 to 2002 she studied both an International Relations program and a master’s in the politics department at Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
Among her many career milestones, the Russian socialite has ticked off stints as a TV anchor, journalist and actress.
She first became known in the public eye for presenting reality show “Dom-2” on TNT.
MTV Russia launched a programme called “GosDep (State Department) with Ksenia Sobchak” in September 2012. The show didn’t make it further than the first episode entitled “Where is Putin leading us?”. MTV said the show was axed due to a lack of interest in politics from their young audience.
In 2011 she became an anchor on independent TV channel TV Rain, where she was still employed at the time her plans to run for election were announced.
In an interview on Russian channel TV Rain, during which she announced her candidacy, Sobchak described herself as an “against all” protest candidate.
“Over the past 17 years, a whole new generation has grown up that wants to see a different Russia that is civilised and European,” she said.
In December 2011 Sobchak joined protest rallies held in response to alleged electoral frauds during Russia’s parliamentary elections.
Sobchak has, so far, refrained from criticising Putin publically, though she took part in a campaign against his re-election in 2012.
Critics suggested that her candidacy is a Kremlin-backed move to inject glamour and legitimacy into the election and split the opposition vote.