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Russia's "Paris Hilton" turned political reformer

September 19th, 2012
12:00 PM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

"Russia, without Putin."

That was the rallying cry from tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters who flooded the center of Moscow this weekend. It was the first time since June that the movement had taken to the streets.

Among the many protesters was Ksenia Sobchak, a well-known socialite often called the Paris Hilton of Russia.

Russia boots out USAID

Her father, Anatoly Sobchak, was a mentor to President Vladimir Putin. Her mother is a pro-Kremlin member of parliament. So it came as a shock to many Russians when six months ago Sobchak joined the opposition movement.

“I don't think that you can be against some person because then it’s not politics. It's individual hatred. I'm not against Putin. I'm against system. And I don't think that Putin and [the] system are all the same.”

Sobchak says she wants to change the system.

“I want to change it on evolutionary basis, which is very important, because revolutions have already taken place in our country and I don't want any revolution anymore in my country.”

But her socialite and party-girl image still have some questioning her credentials to be a serious political activist.

“I think that any person at any time of his life can change,” and Sobchak says she’s an example of that.

“I'm not sure if I can be effective in what I'm doing now. I'm not sure that I know enough to do it effectively. But I'm really trying to and I'm really learning to.”

Sobach appears to be under the sights of Russian authorities. They raided her apartment three months ago, and according to Sobach took more than one million dollars stashed in her apartment.

“This is the kind of ridiculous situation when, in a country, which is considered to be a democratic country, they take away your money and they don't even explain why they do this.”

Despite the protests and high-profile activists like Sobach and Pussy Riot - the Russian rock band sentenced to two years in prison - polls show Putin’s popularity is still quite high. He’s still viewed as a strong leader - and Russians seem to want a strong leader.

“I don't think actually anything wrong with this. I'm not arguing that he's not popular. I just want our [media] to be honest and to have no censorship,” Sobach says. “ And when all the federal channels are under control, it's quite difficult to speak to the big masses of people about what's really important.”

She says government control of the media might actually explain why Putin’s popularity is as high as it is.

At APEC Russia and the U.S. look east

CNN’s Claire Calzonetti produced this piece for television.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. emrah

    it's always about system and its exploiters already. i really hate that

    September 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Reply
  2. theclosetmob

    This piece has too many grammatical errors. Also, is the socialite named Sobchak or Sobach? I can't tell who exactly I'm reading about when the interviewee's name keeps being altered with every single paragraph. Does CNN not proof-read their articles?

    September 19, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Reply
  3. roberts

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    September 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Reply
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    September 19, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Reply
  5. Ragozzi

    I wouldn't go so far as to call her Russia's "Paris Hilton". She is no match for Paris Hilton. Paris Hilton is much better looking, for once.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Reply
    • Haha

      Yeah but Paris is no match against her in terms of IQ and dignity.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:11 am | Reply
      • Ragozzi

        IQ probably yes, dignity – I don't think so...

        September 26, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  6. Roxie

    I like her approach of not going after one person but system as a whole. I know how hard it can be living under such situation and i hope she stays safe. Interviewer here seemed very disconnected. I didnt really like the way she was asking questions. I did like the questions but seemed like she didnt really get the point. Go Ksenia :)

    September 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Reply
    • Roma

      "I know how hard it can be living under such situation and i hope she stays safe."
      You know nothing – she is a well protected millionaire.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Reply
  7. Bratzy

    Why is there never any mention of the Communist Party in the demonstration. They are the overwhelming majority of the opposition but the West will continue to censor their presence and group them as part of the opposition when in fact they are the only real opposition.

    September 20, 2012 at 12:14 am | Reply
  8. Лена

    Ксения, учим английский. Это легко и приятно. И отрабатываем произношение. Это интересно и круто.

    September 20, 2012 at 12:44 am | Reply
  9. Maria

    Oh, c'mon... This is laughable! You can't expect a party rocker to change years and years of RUSSIAN LIAR POLITICAL SYSTEM.

    September 23, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Reply
  10. dillipmohanty

    Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and really like learning more on this matter. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more details? It is extremely helpful for me.
    Youth social worker

    September 24, 2012 at 8:31 am | Reply
  11. Виктор

    Лошадь и сюда забралась =) Почитал Комменты Американцев, ну что же улыбка проскочила)
    Есть предложение! У нас таких оппозиционеров очень много, а точнее как говна. Так что можем недорого отдать их навсегда!
    А по существу Путин, это человек от бога!

    October 9, 2012 at 10:29 am | Reply
    • seva

      from "God" with horns ...

      November 26, 2012 at 9:04 am | Reply
  12. Mytilus G.

    > That was the rallying cry from tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters who flooded the center of Moscow this weekend.

    'Tens of thousands' is 14000. 0.01% of Russians or 0.1% of Muscovites. Mere flashmob.

    October 11, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Reply
  13. Mr. White

    Flashmob named as "Marche of millions"

    October 21, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Reply
    • seva

      intelligent person would say so. If you said the "million" – do it.

      November 26, 2012 at 9:07 am | Reply
  14. Geraldine Lyter

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    Have a good weekend

    http://www.healthmedicinedigest.co/

    August 12, 2013 at 4:35 am | Reply

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