Reality-TV star turned journalist Ksenia Sobchak has announced plans to run in Russia’s 2018 presidential election, likely pitting her against the traditionally unchallenged President Vladimir Putin. Sobchak, the daughter of former St. Petersburg mayor and Putin mentor Anatoly Sobchak, has been critical of the Kremlin in recent years and has positioned herself as a candidate who could prop up the liberal opposition. “You want to show your active position, but your candidate is not authorized to run? You don’t have a candidate? Tick Sobchak,” she wrote in a letter published by the Vedomosti business daily Wednesday. Facing a backlash for her decision to run while opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been fighting to gain eligibility for the race despite a dubious fraud conviction, Sobchak said she would be willing to consider pulling out if he is allowed to run. “I am going to the polls not simply as a candidate but as a mouthpiece for all those who cannot become candidates,” she said. Putin is expected to seek his fourth term in the election, with no competition. He has yet to formally announce that he will run.
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