Ksenia Sobchak used the political agenda to promote her own popularity and brand: even the failure in the 2018 presidential elections, in which she consulted with the presidential administration, played into her hands. Now she is actively lobbying for her own business with the help of her mother, Senator Lyudmila Narusova, and evasively answers questions about her return to politics. Writes about this edition "Project".
In 2011, Sobchak appeared at an opposition rally on Bolotnaya Square with her then-boyfriend, Moscow Deputy Mayor Sergei Kapkov. A few weeks later, Sobchak spoke already on Sakharov Avenue, where she met the opposition leader Ilya Yashin and started a relationship with him.
After that, Yashin and Sobchak were searched with the seizure of money: the diva lost about 1.5 million euros in cash, and by the fall of 2012 she had lost all contracts on federal TV. At the same time, Sobchak's mother Lyudmila Narusova was expelled from the Federation Council, which looked like sheer disgrace. However, after about 2 months from the date of the search, the investigation returned Sobchak in cash, although Yashin succeeded only five years later, and even then by court order. "Narusova called where necessary, and she was quickly returned," recalls an acquaintance Sobchak.
Relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin soon also improved: some time after the events on Bolotnaya, bloggers working for the Kremlin were instructed not to write anything bad about Sobchak, as she is moving away from opposition activities. After Bolotnaya, Sobchak's political consultations with the Kremlin became regular, and in 2017 she put forward her candidacy for the presidency of the Russian Federation.
Several presidential administration officials and former members of Sobchak’s campaign staff say her presidential campaign was carefully coordinated with the Kremlin. And the idea of the nomination came from Putin's friend Yuri Kovalchuk and was intended to create an alternative to Alexei Navalny, pulling off the votes of liberal voters.
Before the start of the campaign in the summer of 2017, Sobchak met several times with Putin - according to some sources, in order for the president to authorize the financing of Sobchak's campaign and agree with her on what she can talk about during her campaign. In addition, the presidential administration allegedly helped the TV presenter's headquarters to collect the 100,000 signatures necessary for the nomination.
At the same time, Sobchak began regular contacts with the first deputy head of the presidential administration, Sergei Kirienko, who coordinated the theses of her election program. It was after consulting with him that Sobchak's program included an item on the liquidation of the Ministry of Culture and the thesis on the abolition of the Russian Orthodox Church, which had previously been proposed by the political strategists of its headquarters, disappeared.
Some technologists who worked for Sobchak admit that they were invited to "help Sobchak and hang out," and the proposal came from the presidential administration. And when, already during the campaign, one of the experts wrote a negative column about Sobchak, he received a call from the Presidential Administration and asked him not to do this anymore. Sobchak herself denies acquaintance and contacts with Kiriyenko and Kovalchuk, as well as contacts of her headquarters with the Kremlin.
Sobchak's headquarters in Moscow was located on the territory of the expensive Moscow Silk business center in Khamovniki. The headquarters opened on December 26 - according to the estimates of "Project", about 4 months of rent could cost 4 million rubles. At the same time, according to the CEC, the largest amount of donations for the elections officially went to the Sobchak Foundation - almost 20 million rubles. According to one of the members of the headquarters, Sobchak "sold" herself to sponsors, promising to solve their problems and luring them by the fact that Vladimir Putin personally monitors the campaign.
The employees of the headquarters were paid mainly in cash, while it was possible to get about 100 thousand rubles for 10 minutes of installation. One of Sobchak's assistants, according to the Project, was media manager Demyan Kudryavtsev, whose family was then associated with the Vedomosti newspaper: according to former headquarters employees, he attended important meetings, although he himself claims that he only held occasional consultations.
For the presidential election, Sobchak was nominated by the Civil Initiative party, whose leadership then included Andrei Nechaev and Dmitry Gudkov. One of the arguments in favor of the party's nomination was Sobchak's promise to find 100 million rubles a year to finance the Civil Initiative. However, a few months after the elections, Sobchak announced that the Kremlin had become disillusioned with the party because of the name and the presence of Gudkov in its leadership. “After that, she financed the party for some time, but quickly stopped, although she finally refused to leave the leadership, demanding a return on the invested funds. Although everyone knows that it was not her money,” says the party member.
As a result, the result of 1.68% of votes in the elections seemed too insignificant even for the presidential administration, and Sobchak herself accused Alexei Navalny of the loss, who, in her opinion, “for some reason did not want to conduct a smart vote and unite around one of the most liberal of the candidates ". At the same time, participation in the elections turned out to be very useful for the personal brand and the TV presenter's business built on it, especially since she is actively lobbying for her own business with the help of her mother, Senator Lyudmila Narusova.
In 2019, Sobchak was a witness for the defense of the owner of Optima Development, tobacco king Albert Khudoyan, who was accused of fraud. As the interlocutors close to the businessman told the "Project", Khudoyan himself asked her about it, having come into conflict with another authoritative businessman Sergei Govyadin.
In the spring of 2020, Sobchak issued documents for the purchase of a share in two fishing companies, as it became known from Senator Narusova's appeal to the Supreme Court. Using the right of a member of the Federation Council, Narusova demanded to understand the reasons for the seizure of property of the companies, which Sobchak could not take possession of. In the summer, a Sakhalin court removed the arrest from the companies, but in September Sobchak announced that they were leaving the deal, and now claims that she does not have a "crab business." "This is an outright lie. I wanted to enter into a deal - my competitors did not let me do it. Now this deal is broken," she said.
According to Proekt's estimates, Sobchak's income consists of work at corporate events (one “call” to a corporate party costs at least 30 thousand euros), as well as activities in the field of media and PR. Sobchak has his own YouTube channel, since May 2019 he has been holding the post of general producer of the Super entertainment channel, and since February 2020 he has hosted the DokTok show on Channel One, in which, according to experts, he very carefully chooses topics and does not deviate from the official points of view. Despite the modest ratings of the program, Sobchak does not plan to abandon it.
As for Youtube and Instagram, only for advertising on these platforms Sobchak could earn about 185-190 million rubles in 2019. The prime cost of issues on her channel can be no more than 200-300 thousand rubles, while Sobchak has several advertising integrations per issue.
In addition, Sobchak has a joint business with journalist and blogger Yulia Prudko. Their advertising agencies LLC "Leaders" and "June & July", specialize in advertising brands of clothing. Sobchak's share in both companies is 51%. The total profit of both agencies in 2019 is 3.75 million rubles. The marketing strategy for the brand from the Sobchak agency will cost 400,000 rubles, fashion consulting costs 180,000 rubles. Also in September 2020, Sobchak launched her own clothing line "Caution! Sobchak": a hoodie with the inscription "I do not give autographs" can be bought for 9,600 rubles, panties with the inscription "Caution!" will cost 2600 rubles. According to Project estimates, after the elections, Sobchak could earn at least $ 5 million only on advertising and television projects.
When asked if she is going to continue her political career, Sobchak responds evasively, saying that in general she is "interested" in politics. "Someday it will become such that I will be able to compete in fair free elections and, I hope, win," Sobchak said.