MOSCOW (AP) — A 35-year-old Russian celebrity TV host who wants to become a presidential candidate opened her first news conference on Tuesday by demanding the release of all political prisoners.
Ksenia Sobchak announced her presidential bid last week, arguing that Russia has grown tired of its current political elite. Critics said Sobchak’s run would further fragment the opposition while lending the March election a veneer of legitimacy.
Sobchak is the daughter of President Vladimir Putin’s mentor, former St. Petersburg mayor Anatoly Sobchak. Her mother is a lawmaker at the Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament. She first became known as a fashionable socialite before launching a successful TV career.
Sobchak has joined anti-Kremlin protests and has been often critical of the government, but she has largely avoided criticizing Putin.
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Putin hasn’t yet said whether he will seek re-election but he’s widely expected to run.
Speaking in a packed room, Sobchak told reporters that at least 30 percent of Russians remain without representation and voting for her should change that.
Sobchak has named Igor Malashenko, one of the pioneers of the post-Soviet television and the man behind the 1996 re-election of President Boris Yeltsin, as her campaign chief. Sobchak would not say how much she expects the campaign to cost, saying only that she planned to receive funding help from anonymous businessmen.