The 36-year-old daughter of St Petersburg’s late mayor, who once guided and employed President Putin occupies a considerable space in Russian public life. Anatoli Sobchak, since taking to the streets against Putin’s return to the presidency in 2012 alongside this very opposition, Sobchak quickly became one of the most recognisable faces of Russia’s liberal circles. Sobchak earned the filmy reputation of Russia’s Paris Hilton from years of hosting reality show kinda programs such as Big Brother’s Russian analogue ‘Dom 2’ and her own reality television show Blondinka v Shokolade. In Lenin’s country, Sobchak has a considerable repute as a strong woman with leadership abilities.
Given her past and occasionally present penchant for glitzy parties and celebrity, Sobchak has attracted an audience by being personable and good humored about her own idiosyncratic callings. Her role, if she does get official backing to register on the ballot, will likely be, whether by default or design, similar to billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who contested against Putin in 2012. Resourceful, Westward-looking but a political novice, Prokhorov was cast as the liberal voice in a choir of conservative candidates, in a political performance containing scant acknowledgments of the bursting protest movement on the streets of Moscow.
But experts say that her candidacy for President is just to give Kremlin the platform to display the world that anyone can challenge the President and how strong the democratic ethos are in this powerful country. They want her to serve as a harmless foil for Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin has reportedly reached out to a handful of female public figures to launch their own campaign in order to increase public interest in the election. Getting a high voter turnout, seems to be the primary intention.
A series of reports from national media and the BBC over the last few weeks have claimed that Putin’s team is convincing socialite turned journalist Kseniya Sobchak to launch a presidential bid and attract the attention of younger or middle-class Russians that make up her audience.
For weeks, Russian media has been reporting that the Kremlin is expected to pick a female candidate to increase interest in the election.
Opposition leader and political activist Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who is barred from running for the top job because of a controversial graft conviction, previously said Sobchak would only serve as a “caricature of a liberal candidate”.
The opposition has long debated whether to boycott or participate in elections in which they are typically denied state television coverage.
Sobchak will now campaign to collect 300,000 signatures from Russian citizens to receive ratification from the electoral commission and hold a conference next week with a fuller manifesto.
Interestingly, polls show no woman is likely to unseat President Vladimir Putin, as most Russians still want a man as head of state in the near future. A majority of Russians (53 percent) do not want to see a female president lead their country in the next 10 to 15 years, a poll by independent survey company Levada Center for the Interfax news agency shows. (Source: Newsweek).