Ksenia Sobchak: TV presenter and former presidential candidate flees Russia


Russian TV presenter and 2018 presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak has fled Russia to Lithuania, Russian state news agency TASS reported Thursday.

Sobchack entered Lithuania using an Israeli passport, according to Darius Jauniskis, director of the country’s Department of State Security.

“Yes, I can confirm that Sobchak is in Lithuania,” TASS quoted Jauniskis as saying.

Sobchak left the country on Wednesday after her apartment was raided as part of the criminal case against her commercial director Kirill Sukhanov, who was arrested on extortion charges.

“Our commercial director Kirill Sukhanov has been arrested. They are trying to accuse me of extortion,” Sobchak wrote on her Telegram channel on Wednesday.

Sobchak denounced this as “nonsense” and an attack on her editorial team.

“I don’t believe it [these charges] not at all, and I hope that now they will sort everything out quickly and see that this is all kind of nonsense,” he said. “If not, it’s clearly an attack on my newsroom – the last free newsroom in Russia, which had to be shut down.”

Sobchak is a suspect in the case of its director, Sergei Chemezov, accused of extorting 11 million rubles (approximately $179,000) from the head of state corporation Rostec, a law enforcement agency source told TASS.

The defense plans to appeal Sukhanov’s arrest, his lawyer Svetlana Lipatova said on Wednesday.

Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Sobchak has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was mentored by his late father, the reformist politician Anatoly Sobchak, early in his political career.

In the 2010s Ksenia Sobchak frequently attended opposition protests and rallies, but lost the support of opposition figures after running for the presidency of Russia in 2018.

His decision to run for president was widely criticized by Russian opposition leaders, including Alexey Navalny, who accused his campaign of being a sham and labeled it a “Kremlin project”.