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On Tuesday, Mr Navalny celebrated a legal victory with a preliminary judgment from the European Court of Human Rights.

That ruling said the embezzlement trial that saw him and his brother convicted in December 2014 was unfair.

With influence and connections that reached across the political spectrum, there were few people who could turn Ms Sobchak down.

The interview series has no doubt proved a useful testing ground for Ms Sobchak’s political career.

At the same time, it is widely assumed Ms Sobchak’s star appeal will energise an otherwise predictable election.

Whatever the details of any arrangement, the Kremlin’s response so far has contrasted obviously with the treatment of fellow opposition politician Mr Navalny, who remains in jail for his role in organising “unsanctioned” protests.

Mr Navalny himself described Sobchak as “the Kremlin’s ideal caricature liberal candidate.” Ms Sobchak took to Instagram to reply publicly, criticising Mr Navalny for “asserting a monopoly over the opposition.” Ilya Yashin, opposition leader and Ms Sobchak’s former boyfriend, told that Mr Navalny was the “only person with the popularity, the only person capable of running a campaign, and the only person running not for their image, but to win.” Mr Yashin said his party would continue to support Mr Navalny’s campaign to get on the ballot paper.

For Ms Sobchak, 35, the announcement completed a remarkable circle; the reinvention of “Russia’s Paris Hilton” as its Chelsea Clinton.For much of her professional life, the daughter of St Petersburg’s first post-Soviet mayor had been synonymous with sex and celebrity.She hosted the local, raunchier version of reality show Big Brother, and entertained tabloids with a string of scandalous relationships. “If I’m honest,” she once lectured a radio host, “your problem is that you’ve got an inferiority complex – you know you’re not quite a star.” With an army of fans and multi-million earnings, Ms Sobchak clearly believed she was in a place to judge. She refused to criticise President Putin, who was a friend and colleague of her late father, and rumoured to be her godfather. Ms Sobchak began to wear the badge of a political activist.I intend to be the candidate for those who want to vote against everyone.” The declaration of intent ends weeks of speculation as to whether the journalist, socialite, famous daughter and yet-more-famous-goddaughter would run in presidential elections next March.The talk that Ms Sobchak was considering a presidential bid – against the public advice of fellow liberal opposition politician Alexei Navalny – had electrified Russia’s somnambulant political circles.

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