Russia's 'Fake' Election Our World


Russia's 'Fake' Election

Ksenia Sobchak is challenging Vladimir Putin for the presidency. Some say she's a fake candidate, running to boost the Kremlin's democratic credentials.


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Sarah Campbell, BBC News.

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It just warms the heart.

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Now on BBC News, Our World.

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In Moscow nightclub, the opposition

candidate makes her pitch to the

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country. Russian democracy is a

strange and sometimes dangerous

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beast.

It is a fake election.

It is

a fake election?

Yes, I am always

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telling that.

How do you mean?

I

mean like any casino. The win is

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always on the house. In Russia it is

always on that it didn't side. -- it

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is or is on Vladimir Putin's side.

So I'm not trained to win, I just

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want to be heard. -- it is always

on.

Once upon a time, in the former

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capital of the czars, eight girl was

born with a silver spoon in the MoU.

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-- a. When the Soviet empire

collapsed, so it was turned into

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gold for some. Ksenia Sobchak's

family was among those view. Her

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father, one of the founders of

Russia's new democracy, became the

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Mayor of St Petersburg. He would

later die in uncertain

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circumstances, while his former

deputy, a once unknown KGB officer,

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would become the most powerful man

in Russia.

It was a person who gave

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but admitted his first job. --

Vladimir Putin his first job.

But by

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a strange twist of fate, nearly two

decades later, the girl with the

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silver spoon would challenge the new

star for the highest office in the

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land. -- czar.

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350 miles south of Moscow, the city

of cause. Ksenia Sobchak is on the

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campaign trail. -- Anatoly Sobchak.

Her purpose here is to talk to would

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know Russians.

The biggest problem

in Russia is not freedom of speech.

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Unfortunately, for many people, it

is the poverty.

Out in the suburbs,

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residents have been complaining they

cannot get their children into a

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local nursery.

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Ksenia Sobchak herself is the mother

of a young child, and she is hoping

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that will help connect with these

voters. And now she is haranguing

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some local officials. This is pretty

much what but it did and does when

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he goes around. -- Vladimir Putin.

Had fillet people react to Europe,

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coming as you do, from a privileged

background?

You know, I don't try to

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be like, I am late one of you,

because it is not true. -- how do

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you feel people. If I wear red

lipstick in my ordinary time, why

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should I take an offer them. So I am

not a populist. I come in a good car

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and in good clothes, but they are is

money, I did not steal it.

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Corruption is a big issue in this

election for all candidates. After a

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slightly optimistic welcome at local

campaign headquarters, Ksenia

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Sobchak take things one step

further.

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In Russian politics, there are

certain red lines. Among them,

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People, and his inner circle. --

Putin and his inner circle. Direct

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criticism of Vladimir Putin seems

dangerous, and many people do not

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want to know. But Anatoly Ksenia

Sobchak's Jenny Shin dissidents has

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been an unusual one.

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-- Ksenia Sobchak's rise to

dissidents. In the first decade of

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this century, as many Russians

struggled, Ksenia Sobchak

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transformed herself from society

rich kid to television celebrity.

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Leading the masses a diet of reality

television and branding herself

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simply Ksenia

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television and branding herself

simply Ksenia. But then the girl

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with the silver spoon had a valid

transformation. In 2011, she joined

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opposition protests and was properly

carted off to a police cell. Alexei

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Navalny, the movement's leader, has

long been a thorn in the

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government's side.

I was close with

him for many years. We shared many

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values and we still share many of

those values, I hope.

But when a

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Alexei Navalny was banned from

standing in this year's collections,

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Ksenia Sobchak announced that she

was running instead. Proponents said

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that she was a Kremlin agent, just

more reality television. -- her

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opponents. Could that be true? Could

it be that Ksenia Sobchak is doing

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the Kremlin's bidding? I paid a

visit to her campaign headquarters

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to meet one of her top advisers, a

woman well versed in the darker arts

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of Russian politics. She should be.

She used to work for Vladimir Putin

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himself.

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Just to be clear, this is Ksenia

Sobchak's own campaign advisers

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saying yes, we are plainly Kremlin's

game. But in Russia, there is always

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more than one game going on.

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And that is exactly what Ksenia

Sobchak says she is trying to do. If

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there is one thing that Ksenia

Sobchak understands, it is the power

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of television. She is using her

candidacy to talk about the blue

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issues. -- issues that are taboo. To

see this on state television is

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heresy. Genuinely subversive.

Shocked presenters have resorted to

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surreal measures to try and run her

out. But here is the conundrum: The

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Kremlin controls everything. Who

gets to stand in elections, and who

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gets to go on television. So what is

going on? Ksenia Sobchak treads a

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delicate path. Before she set out on

her journey, the girl with the

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silver spoon needed to get the

approval of the czar in the Kremlin.

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She needed wise counsel.

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Alexei Navalny's is one of Russia's

most famous and well respected

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journalist. -- Alexei is. As it

happens, Ksenia Sobchak is in the

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process of making a film about her

father, the former mayor. But it

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didn't agree to an interview. In

September, she went to see him in

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the Kremlin. -- Ksenia Sobchak

agreed to an interview. I said I was

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there to challenge.

And he was

silent for a second, then said,

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well, that is your decision. But it

is your responsibility.

What you

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think you by that?

I don't even want

to think about that. I don't think

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anything nice.

And so the czar

decided to accept this challenge.

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But not everybody was happy. Behind

the facade of monolithic power,

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different factions struggled for

power.

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How indeed? Had had the girl who

spoke out against the czar get

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permission to run against an? The

answer to this riddle lies buried in

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the past, when Vladimir Putin worked

for me to one's father in St

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Petersburg. -- Ksenia Sobchak's

father.

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Perhaps it should more accurately be

titled the Museum of how Russian

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Democracy was poisoned at Source.

The name Anatoly Sobchak stands

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alongside the likes of Gorbachev and

Yeltsin.

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The story of how the anti-Soviet

reformer chosen and skewer KGB

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officer as his deputy is also the

story of how factions from the old

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Soviet security establishment have

come to be running Russia today. --

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obscure KGB officer.

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Anatoly Sobchak was voted out of

office in 1996 amid allegations of

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corruption. While his political

fortunes declined, he is deputies

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were on the rise. Putin moved to

Moscow and got a job in the Kremlin.

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When anticorruption investigators

called Sobchak in for questioning,

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Putin personally helped spirit him

out of the country.

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With Sobchak Don, the investigation

ground to a halt. -- gone. A few

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years later an independent

journalist in Saint Petersburg had

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an unexpected visitor. A man by the

name of Yuri claims to have the

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details of the Sobchak

investigation.

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He had aid dossier, I didn't take it

into my room is, I didn't open it.

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-- a dossier.

Why would a journalist

not want to read the dossier? The

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answer is self reservation. Not long

after this, Yuri was charged with

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murder. When a judge dismissed the

case due to lack of evidence, armed

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officers burst into the courtroom

and rearrested him. He ended his

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days in a remote prison colony.

He

knew too much. He used to work for

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Sobchak. And because... He was

dangerous, when he was three.

But

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Sobchak was already out of the

picture. Why was he still dangerous?

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He was dangerous to someone around

Sobchak, someone who was very close

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to Sobchak. I suspect that he was

dangerous to fit in as well.

--

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dangerous to Putin. In the course of

making a film about her father,

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Ksenia Sobchak got hold of

classified investigation files. She

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says the case was cooked up I

hardliners to discredit her father.

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But she does confirm for the first

time that Vladimir Putin was

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questioned as part of the

investigation.

All those interviews

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and investigations with him, with

Putin, they look very professional.

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It is a fact that they found

nothing, they were very

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disappointed. They didn't succeed.

In Moscow, factions were

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manoeuvring. Putin was being groomed

as the successor to Boris Yeltsin.

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The battle was over who would have

sway over the new leader. In

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February 2000, Anatoly Sobchak died

suddenly at the age of 62. At the

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funeral, Russia's new president was

distraught.

That was the first and

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last time everybody saw him crying

in Russia. I still remember it. One

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of the shocks I had was his

reaction. He was totally killed

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this.

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But what killed Savchuk? To this

day, that remains a mystery. The

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original autopsy was inconclusive,

and many were suspicious, including

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Sobchak's widow, Ksenia's mother.

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She had her own autopsy performed

but instead of making the results

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public, she keeps them locked in a

safe in a secret location.

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Today, the Kremlin is still a place

of rival factions. To threaten their

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power is to take a terrible risk.

The girl with the silver spoon is

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not a girl any more. Her family

history may protect her, but only up

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to a point.

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Meanwhile, are, Sobchak campaign

trail.

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From public transport to pensions to

childcare, Ksenia listens to

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people's everyday problems as if she

were a real candidate in a real

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election.

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And the passengers on this trolley

bus know all about her family ties.

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And yet...

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What, then, is the purpose of all

this elaborately it? If Ksenia is a

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threat to the regime, why let her

run at all? I have spoken to a

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senior government official on the

condition I could not quote them by

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name. I said, what is the point of

having an election when everybody

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acknowledges only one person can

win? They said, look, this is a

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western invention that you have. We

do have a classical democracy in

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Russia. We have what is called a

developing democracy. The truth is,

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Russian democracy has stopped

developing. It is frozen. Paralysed

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by two certain facts: just as surely

as Putin will win the next election,

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he will also not be around forever.

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Behind the walls of the Kremlin,

powerful people are playing games.

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Ksenia Sobchak is a pawn. Some

factions are pushing forward. Others

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want to hold her back. The girl with

the silver spoon knows all this. But

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she thinks the pawn just might

become Queen.

That is my chess game.

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I'd play this option of going to

elections, because I was thinking

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that I had the chance of going

through, because of my name, because

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they underestimate me, because I

have a past which they can always

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put on me, because they are not

afraid of me as much as a Alexei

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Navalny.

Who is the better

chessplayer, you were President

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Putin?

I don't know. We will see in

the end. But the end is not me. I am

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only starting. -- the end is not

near.

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Ksenia Sobchak is young, wealthy and famous. Her father helped bring down the Soviet Union. Now she's challenging ex-KGB officer Vladimir Putin for the Russian presidency. A perfect pedigree Perhaps. But some say she's a fake candidate, running a no-hope race to boost the Kremlin's democratic credentials. Gabriel Gatehouse travels to Russia to unravel a tale of family loyalties, a death in suspicious circumstances, and double dealings in the quest for power.


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