Russian investigators have raided the Moscow home of Ksenia Sobchak, the daughter of Vladimir Putin’s former boss and mentor.
Ms. Sobchak, 40, made her name as a socialite and reality TV star and was known as the ‘Russian Paris Hilton’ before becoming a TV journalist and opposition activist.
She is the daughter of the late Anatoly Sobchak, the first democratically elected mayor of St Petersburg, where Putin served as deputy in the 1990s.
Ms Sobchak has become an outspoken critic of the Russian president – who ran as an opposition candidate in the 2018 elections – but took only fourth place and 1.7% of the vote.
Imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny claims she entered in an effort to make the contest look more democratic – describing her as a “parody Liberal candidate”.
According to Russian news agencies Tass and RIA-Novosti, police raided Ms. Sobchak’s luxury home on the outskirts of Moscow in connection with their investigation into alleged misdeeds by her media director.
Kirill Sukhanov has been arrested on extortion charges, which he denies.
Ms Sobchak has dismissed the allegations against Sukhanov as “hassle and nonsense” and said his arrest was part of the authorities’ efforts to silence independent media.
9.4 million Instagram followers
Her whereabouts are still unknown.
Russian state media allege that she bought airline tickets to Dubai and Turkey to mislead authorities, but in reality left Russia via Belarus to reach Lithuania.
She has 9.4 million followers on Instagram and first got involved in politics during the 2011-12 Moscow protests against Putin.
Ms. Sobchak then reinvented herself as a serious broadcaster and opposition activist.
Her father died of an apparent heart attack in February 2000 – when Putin was acting Russian president.