Russian TV host and 2018 presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak has fled Russia to Lithuania, Russian state news agency TASS reported Thursday.
Sobchak entered Lithuania using an Israeli passport, said Darius Jauniskis, head of the country’s National Security Agency.
“Yes, we can confirm that Sobchak is in Lithuania,” TASS quoted Jauniskis.
Sobchak left the country after it emerged Wednesday that her apartment was raided as part of a criminal case against her commercial director, Kirill Sukhanov, who was detained on blackmail charges.
“Commercial director Kirill Sukhanov has been arrested. They are trying to charge him with extortion,” Sobchak wrote on her Telegram channel on Wednesday.
Sobchak denounced this as “nonsense” and an attack on her editorial team.
“i don’t believe [these charges] And now I hope they sort everything out quickly and realize that this is all some kind of nonsense,” she said. A raid on my editorial office, the last free editorial office in Russia that never existed.”
Law enforcement sources told TASS that Sobchak was a suspect in the case of her director, who was accused of extorting 11 million rubles (about $179,000) from the head of Rostec state enterprise Sergei Chemezov. is.
The defense plans to appeal Sukanov’s detention, his lawyer Svetlana Lipatova said Wednesday.
Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Sobchak has a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Early in his political career, Putin was mentored by his late father, reformist politician Anatoly He Sobchak.
In the 2010s, Ksenia Sobchak frequently participated in opposition protests and rallies, but lost support from opposition figures after she ran for president of Russia in 2018.
Her decision to run for president was widely criticized by Russian opposition leaders. Among them is Alexei Navalny, who accused her campaign of being fake and called her a “Kremlin project.”