London: A socialite and reality show presenter, known as Paris Hilton of Russia, is taking on the country’s powerful Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin.
Like Hilton, Ksenia Sobchak, 30, likes to date millionaires, ranks among her country’s richest celebrities and has even launched her own perfume.
But unlike the American heiress, Sobchak comes from political stock - and is fast becoming one of Putin’s leading critics.
Last week MTV Russia suddenly cancelled her new political talk show ‘Gosdep’, which gave a forum to opposition activists.
It was axed after the first episode - called ‘Where Is Putin Taking Us?’ - despite doubling the channel’s usual audience.
Sobchak later tweeted that it was done “without any explanation”, the Sun reported.
“Our viewers are more interested in show business, teenage serials and music,” an MTV spokesman said.
The show’s next guest was due to be opposition blogger Alexey Navalny, who duly blogged about the shutting down of the show.
“I’m very sorry but it seems that Gosdep was closed because of me,” he said.
Sobchak is best known for hosting Russia’s version of Big Brother, ‘Dom 2’, which was called a “brothel” by conservatives.
She has been on the cover of Russian Playboy and writes for society magazine Tatler, but she also has a degree in international relations and a Masters in political science.
She is the Porsche-driving daughter of the late Anatoly Sobchak, who became the first elected mayor of St Petersburg in 1991, when Putin was his deputy.
Opposition blog Russialize, which labelled her “our revolutionary sweetheart”, has urged her detractors not to think of her as just a spoilt rich girl.
“She’s not your regular Kardashian. She’s smart, reckless and she speaks her mind, which, given the regime, could cost her quite a bit,” it said.