Is Putin’s Celebrity Challenger the Future of Russia’s Opposition?

Is Putin’s Celebrity Challenger the Future of Russia’s Opposition?
Russian presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak attends a demonstration against sexual harassment, holding a placard reading “Deputies, we don’t want you!”, Moscow, March 8, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Like most figures who have undergone significant transformations in the public eye, Ksenia Sobchak, the most prominent candidate running against Vladimir Putin in Russia’s presidential election Sunday, means different things to different people. Her detractors see a campy celebrity-turned-politician—a puppet who is merely playing the role of substantive challenger. Her supporters, on the other hand, see a skillful operator capable of effectively manipulating the media—a new kind of political personality putting forth an alternative vision for the country. Just a decade ago, she was known exclusively as a socialite and entertainer. Despite coming from a political family, she had launched […]

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