Investigators raid home of Russian celeb Ksenia Sobchak amid reports she fled

Former presidential candidate and TV star Ksenia Sobchak attends a news conference in Moscow, Russia, May 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Former presidential candidate and TV star Ksenia Sobchak attends a news conference in Moscow, Russia, May 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Russian investigators raid the home of Ksenia Sobchak, the glamourous daughter of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s one-time boss, in a move that has sent shockwaves through the country’s political scene.

Sobchak, a 40-year-old TV star, has often been critical of Putin, but many Russian opposition figures have described her as a tool of the Kremlin. In 2018, she became a liberal challenger in Russia’s presidential election, finishing a distant fourth with about 1.7% of the vote in what her critics described as a Kremlin effort to add a democratic veneer to Putin’s sweeping re-election.

Investigators say that the search at Sobchak’s luxury home in a prestigious Moscow suburb was part of a probe into alleged wrongdoing by her media director, Kirill Sukhanov, who was arrested on charges of extortion.

Sobchak yesterday rejected the accusations against Sukhanov as “ravings and nonsense” and described his arrest as part of the authorities’ efforts to stifle independent media.

The state Tass and RIA-Novosti news agencies said that Sobchak had fled Russia. Tass claimed she had bought tickets to Dubai and Turkey to mislead the authorities but eventually left for Belarus, from where she moved to Lithuania.

Sobchak hasn’t commented on the allegations and her whereabouts were unknown.

A report in April said has obtained Israeli citizenship.

Citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter, the Haaretz daily said both  Sobchak and her son were recently granted citizenship.

The newspaper said Sobchak’s maternal grandfather is Jewish, as is her baby’s father, actor Maksim Vitorgan. Under Israel’s Law of Return, anyone with a Jewish grandparent can immigrate to the country.

TOI staff contributed to this report

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