Political analyst and commentator Sergei Markov argued that the raid shocked Russia’s elite and sent a clear signal that all bets were over.
“If I can arrest the daughter of Putin’s former teacher… does that mean there are no untouchables?” Markov wrote in a comment on the Telegram messaging app. “For some members of the elite, Sobchak’s arrest warrant is a bright sign in the sky.”
Her arrival in Lithuania also raised eyebrows, which in September suspended entry for Russian citizens holding valid visas. I entered the country after
Sobchak joined us.
According to Reuters, Darius Jauniskis, head of the Lithuanian National Security Agency, told a Ziniu radio station: “Definitely she is (in Lithuania) … I have confirmed the fact.” . The agency later confirmed details of Jauniskis’ comments in an email to NBC News.
Jauniskis said Lithuania had no evidence that Sobchak could pose a threat to national security. “If anything were to happen, certain appropriate steps would be taken,” he told the radio station.
Russian state news agency TASS reported Wednesday that Sobchak was a suspect in a blackmail case involving media director Kirill Sukhanov.
NBC News has not confirmed the reports.
A video has been widely shared on social media that shows a woman believed to be Sobchak crossing the Lithuanian border at Belarus’ Vizy checkpoint. It was located by NBC News, but it’s unclear exactly who the video is showing.
Sobchak has not confirmed that she left Russia, but said on her Telegram channel on Tuesday that the blackmail case was “nonsense” and another attempt to crack down on Russia’s independent media.
A young man who enjoyed partying and appearing on his own reality show has earned Sobchak comparisons to Paris Hilton, but she completely rebranded a decade ago, becoming a prominent political journalist and interviewer. became.
Sobchak has been rumored to be Putin’s granddaughter for years, but she denies it. Her father was the late liberal mayor of St. Petersburg, Anatoly Sobchak, better known as Putin’s leader and the one who launched his career as a Russian leader in mainstream politics.
The former socialite ran for president against Putin in 2018, but received only 1.7% of the overall vote. Seen as a Kremlin setup that creates the illusion that the candidate is allowed and helps justify Putin’s consolidation of power.
Well-connected to the media, Sobchak runs a YouTube channel with over 3.2 million subscribers and often conducts scathing interviews with Russian newsmakers. She also has a prominent social media presence, sharing her fascinating personal life and political views with her 9.4 million followers on Instagram.
When the conflict began in February, she declared her anti-war stance but was not critical enough of the Kremlin and the idea that all Russians bear Putin’s “collective responsibility”. has faced backlash from many at home and in Ukraine for her statements against the .
Sobchak’s resignation marks the latest defection of a prominent Russian celebrity. Many musicians, entertainers, actors and media personalities have left the country for fear that their anti-war views will face repercussions.
State news agency Leah published an op-ed on Thursday calling her resignation “a symbol of the final collapse of the liberal elite.”
The last remnants of Russia’s independent media disappear shortly after Putin launched a full-blown invasion of Ukraine nine months ago, the Kremlin ramps up crackdowns, and many journalists flee the country Or face the possibility of being prosecuted over strict limits on what you can say. About the “special military operations” of the Russian leader.
John Joe Regan contributed.