Russian 'It Girl' Ksenia Sobchak announces Kremlin bid

Russian socialite Ksenia Sobchak in a photo from her Instagram page. PHOTO: INSTAGRAM

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian journalist, former reality show host and socialite Ksenia Sobchak announced on Wednesday (Oct 18) that she intends to stand for president in 2018 as an opposition candidate.

"My name is Ksenia Sobchak. 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."

Russian elections used to allow voters to tick a box titled "none of the above" to reject all candidates.

"Like every Russian citizen, I have the right to run for the presidency. I have decided to use that right," she said.

As an independent candidate, Sobchak will have to collect 300,000 signatures of support.

President Vladimir Putin has not yet announced his expected candidacy in March 2018 polls.

In a letter published on the website of Vedomosti business daily, Sobchak said she realised she would be viewed as an unlikely candidate.

But she vowed that she would support opposition leader Alexei Navalny and call for him to be allowed to stand, after electoral authorities have said he is not eligible due to him serving a suspended sentence for fraud.

"I am going to the polls not simply as a candidate but as a mouthpiece for all those who cannot become candidates," she wrote.

She added: "I am against revolution. But I am a good middleman and organiser."

Navalny wants a peaceful handover of power and "that is right, but they won't believe him," Sobchak wrote.

"They will believe me."

Sobchak, 35, comes from a political dynasty as her father Anatoly Sobchak was a popular mayor of Saint Petersburg, whose aide was a little-known former KGB agent called Vladimir Putin.

The glamorous blonde gained fame by presenting a popular reality show called Dom-2 where couples have to form romantic relationships.

Seen as a party girl, she also had her own reality show called Blonde In Chocolate, which she once presented from a bubble bath.

She surprised many by joining opposition protests in 2012 against Putin over fraud-tainted elections. At the time she was the girlfriend of a prominent young opposition politician, Ilya Yashin.

Sobchak attempted to bring the protest message to the masses through a discussion show she hosted on Russian MTV, but it was pulled after one episode when Sobchak tried to invite on Navalny.

She later presented her own show on TV Rain, an independent television channel, with Navalny as one of her interviewees.

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

"Over the five years since the wave of protests in 2012, my political views have definitively formed," Sobchak wrote in her letter to Vedomosti.

"I am ready to declare them and stand up for them at any level, even the highest."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.