Mixed reaction as TV host announces run for Russia's presidency

Aaron Brown
October 20, 2017

Russia will be working for universal nuclear disarmament, but it is ready to develop new non-nuclear weapons in response to their emergence in other countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting of the worldwide discussion club Valdai on Thursday, TASS reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is warning that Moscow would retaliate immediately if Washington restricts the operations of Russian news outlets in the United States.

One of them, liberal leader Grigory Yavlinsky, warned that Sobchak would play a role similar to billionaire tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov, who challenged Putin in the 2012 election, casting himself as a representative of Russian liberal circles.

A Russian celebrity TV host shook up the country's political scene Wednesday by announcing her presidential bid, a move that would likely boost public interest in the race but could further fragment the nation's beleaguered opposition.

Sobchak admitted during her TV Dozhd show on Wednesday that she had discussed her bid with Putin during a recent visit to the Kremlin.

Ksenia Sobchak's Instagram account, often featuring photographs of her dressed in designer outfits and appearing at glitzy society events, has 5.2 million followers.

Speaking at the Valdai forum in Sochi, Putin said Trump's political adversaries "haven't allowed him to fulfill any of his election platforms and plans".

Sobchak then did not deny her potential candidacy in a recent interview with the Russian edition of US fashion magazine Glamour.

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"This is a loathsome Kremlin game that goes by the title of 'let's put a liberal laughing-stock up for the elections in order to distract attention, '" Navalny said. "He said that everyone has the right to make their own decisions and that they must accept responsibility for them", she said.

Sobchak said her candidacy should be considered as an "against all candidates" alternative, inviting all political forces to take on the current Russian establishment.

"She should withdraw if Navalny isn't allowed to run, as a protest", wrote Marat Guelman, a former Kremlin spin doctor turned Putin critic, on Facebook. The Kremlin spokesman explained that he was not at the meeting.

President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russian Federation remains open to cooperation with Washington even though President Donald Trump's political foes in the USA have tried to prevent him from fulfilling his campaign promises.

Putin is expected to run for re-election in March.

The New Times, a respected opposition website, cited a Kremlin official on Wednesday as saying Sobchak had been offered the chance to head RT, the Kremlin-funded worldwide news channel, if she agreed to run as a quasi-opposition candidate in next year's election.

A poll published last month by the independence Levada centre found that just 0.4 per cent of Russians believed she could stand for president next year.

Like other self-nominated candidates, Sobchak needs to gather 300,000 signatures from at least 40 Russian regions to get registered for the race. Aside from Navalny, only Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the ultra-nationalist LDPR party, has publicly declared his intention to run for president.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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