Vladimir Putin's 'goddaughter' flees Russia hours after police raid

Vladimir Putin’s ‘goddaughter’, 40, flees Russia hours after police raid her home in crackdown on dissent over faltering invasion of Ukraine – as he prepares to brand her a ‘foreign agent’

  • Ksenia Sobchak, 40, understood to have boarded flight to Lithuania via Belarus 
  • Flight took off shortly before agents arrived at Moscow Airport to arrest her
  • Putin has close ties to her family and she is long rumoured to be his goddaughter
  • But he is now poised to brand her ‘foreign agent’ in crackdown against dissent

Vladimir Putin’s goddaughter reportedly fled the country yesterday morning – hours after police raided her mansion after she allegedly criticised Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ksenia Sobchak, 40, is understood to have boarded a flight to Lithuania via Belarus shortly before agents arrived at Moscow’s Vnukovo-3 airport to arrest her.

Putin has longstanding ties to her family and she is long rumoured to be his goddaughter. Her father, Anatoli Sobchak, was Putin’s law professor and mentor who handed him his first foothold in politics as Deputy Mayor of St Petersburg.

Sobchak has known Putin since she was a child, and he attended her baptism.

But he is now poised to brand her a ‘foreign agent’ as part of a crackdown against dissent in Russia.

It is not yet clear what remarks she allegedly made that have angered Kremlin officials and led to the raid of her property. 

It comes three after Sobchak was hit with a separate criminal investigation that could see her jailed for three years allegedly over ‘spreading falsehoods about government agencies’ on a media channel.

Ksenia Sobchak is understood to have boarded a flight to Lithuania via Belarus shortly before agents arrived at Moscow’s Vnukovo-3 airport to arrest her

Russian President Vladimir Putin is now poised to brand her a ‘foreign agent’ as part of a crackdown against dissent in Russia

Anatoly Sobchak pictured alongside Vladimir Putin in 1990s, to whom he had longstanding ties

The head of the shadowy Public Committee for the Detection of Foreign Intervention, Aleksandr Ionov, said a check was underway into whether Sobchak was funded from abroad. Her online media outlet Ostorozhno Novosti is also under investigation.

‘If foreign funding is found, Sobchak will become a foreign agent’, said Ionov.

But Sobchak has claimed the probe is to put pressure on her and her media outlets.

Despite Putin’s ties with her family, she has strongly opposed his authoritarian policies in recent years.

She said: ‘Our commercial director Kirill Sukhanov is detained, as they said, for “blackmail”. This is simply delirium, it is laughable, nonsense.’

‘Kirill is a businessman and our advertising person. Myself and our entire team see this as yet more oppression against the media in the country. They have got nothing to dig on us, which infuriates them. 

They constantly detain our journalists. Now they have got Kirill, and are making a case against him. The lawyer is in touch with him. We are following the case.’ 

Other Sobchak staff are being interrogated, it was reported.

Such were Putin’s ties to the family, he smuggled Mr Sobchak out of Russia to get medical treatment in the west when his patron was wanted for alleged corruption.

Putin, Lyudmila Narusova, and Ksenia Sobchak pictured together in St Petersburg in November 2003

Ksenia was earlier a popular reality TV host and posed for Playboy before going into politics

He was later photographed at Mr Sobchak’s funeral alongside Ksenia and her mother Lyudmila Narusova, a Russian senator in 2000.

She has voted against war-linked legislation in the Russian parliament and accused his state TV of ‘shameless lies’ over the conflict.

Ksenia – one of Russia’s best known faces – came fourth in the 2018 presidential election in Russia, widely seen as heavily rigged in Putin’s favour.

Despite criticising Putin, she held a personal meeting with the Russian leader before announcing she would oppose him in the poll.

Ksenia was earlier a popular reality TV host and posed for Playboy.

She is understood to be subject of a probe regarding an article covering the ‘public dissemination of deliberately false information about the execution of its authority by a government agency’ – a new law enacted after the start of the war with Ukraine with a punishment of up to three years in jail.

Authorities say that Sergey Chemezov, CEO of Rostec Corporation, had written a statement alleging ‘extortion’ against Sobchak and others.

On the basis of this Kirill Sukhanov and former Russian Tatler editor Arian Romanovsky were detained.

They reportedly face investigation under laws which could lead to jail sentences of between seven and 15 years.

Source: Read Full Article