Can Sobchak shake up Russia's elections?
Her candidacy has already caused a furore: Ksenia Sobchak will run against Vladimir Putin in the Russian presidential election next spring. The 35-year-old former TV presenter wants to bring a breath of fresh air into politics. She's already done that with her announcement, some commentators write in praise.
Sobchak more courageous than Navalny
When announcing that she would run for president Sobchak also said that according to international law Crimea belongs to Ukraine. She's more courageous than Putin's opponent Navalny, blogger Ivo Indjev concludes:
“Sobchak isn't afraid to use the irrefutable argument that Russia violated the 1994 Budapest Memorandum - the sole undisputed argument in a debate otherwise dominated by statements about Crimea's 'historical affiliation' to Russia or the Crimean population's desire to belong to the Russian Federation. ... By going on the offensive on the issue of Crimea, the 35-year-old journalist has breathed new life into the otherwise monotonous political situation in Russia. Even Alexei Navalny, who is considered Putin's toughest critic and opponent, hasn't gone so far in criticising the annexation. On the contrary, his silence shows that he's accepted the thesis that 'Crimea belongs to Russia.'”
Putin's succession could trigger power struggle
The Russian president's far-reaching powers will make the question of who succeeds him all the more difficult to resolve, the Economist warns:
“Mr Putin cannot arrange his succession using his bloodline or the Communist Party apparatus. Perhaps he will anoint a successor. But he would need someone weak enough for him to control and strong enough to see off rivals - an unlikely combination. ... Without the mechanism of a real democracy to legitimise someone new, the next ruler is likely to emerge from a power struggle that could start to tear Russia apart. In a state with nuclear weapons, that is alarming. The stronger Mr Putin is today, the harder he will find it to manage his succession.”
Glamour girl replaces veterans
Sobchak's candidacy corresponds to the voters' desire for a fresh face, Delfi believes:
“No matter whether she took the decision by herself or with the support of the Putin administration, Sobchak presents certain tactical advantages for the Kremlin. ... Because Moscow needs a true democrat who can show people at home and abroad how unpopular liberalism and democracy are in Russia. The glamour girl and reality TV show starlet will make the election campaign colourful and lively. Because the Russians have since grown weary of Putin's eternal rivals: the communist Gennady Zyuganov and the self-styled liberal democrat Vladimir Zhirinovsky. The potential of these veterans is steadily declining.”
True opposition must fear loss of votes
Sobchak's candidacy is bad news for Putin's real adversaries, LRT complains:
“One can only imagine what sort of role she'll play in this election spectacle. She's not at all dangerous for Putin, but her popularity could increase the voter turnout. For rigged elections that's important because it can disguise the true extent of the fraud to a certain extent. Her work at Dozhd TV station and her criticism of the ruling elites could make some voters think she's an opposition candidate, hence she could steal votes from the opposition. For the opposition it's nothing new and part of reality to lose to Putin. But obtaining fewer votes than Sobchak, who's known as Russia's Paris Hilton, would be a real blow to its reputation.”