November 7, 2017 Special Dispatch No. 7166

The Improbable Candidates Contesting Russia's Presidential Elections

November 7, 2017
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 7166

The following is a list of some the new faces who have announced their candidacy for March 18, 2018 Russian presidential elections. This list of quite improbable political figures includes a porn-actress, an "it girl" and a singer.

As all parties represented in the Duma support Putin's reelection, the prospective candidate must take the arduous self-nomination route. This involves registering a voter group of a minimum of 500 people in the Central Election Commission. "After the nomination, the candidate will have to collect 300,000 signatures to be registered, with not more than 7,500 voter signatures gathered in one Russian region," explained the Russian news agency TASS.[1]

If they pass the hurdle they will join the following familiar public figures who have announced their intention to run for the presidency: LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky, Communists of Russia leader Maxim Suraikin, and the political expert and head of the Social Technologies Center Andrei Bogdanov.[2]

The candidacy of the opposition leader and anti-corruption crusader Alexey Navalny is beset with legal obstacles of a different sort. The head of the department for supervising the observance of human rights and freedoms at the Russian prosecutor-general's office, Larisa Kopteva, said that Navalny has no "legal rights" to participate in any election (municipal, regional, legislative and presidential), since he received a five-year suspended sentence after his conviction on embezzlement charges. Under Russian law, citizens convicted of high-level felonies are disqualified from participating in elections.[3]

Russian President Vladimir Putin has not yet announced that he will run in the next presidential elections. During the plenary session of the Valdai International Discussion Club's annual meeting, Russian intellectual Fyodor Lukyanov asked Putin directly whether he will run for reelection in 2018.. Lukyanov plaintively added: "The world needs you!" Putin evaded the question, but used a hoary joke to signal his intentions. An oligarch, who has lost his fortune tells his wife that he will have to sell the Mercedes and buy a Lada, and move out from the prestigious residential area Rublyovka to a standard apartment. "Will you still love me?" asks the oligarch, and the wife answers: 'I will love you very much – and I will miss you greatly,' implying that she will leave him. So, referring to the 2018 elections, Putin commented: "I do not think they will miss me for very long."[4]

Ksenia Sobchak: The It Girl

On October 18, 2017, TV host, L'Officiel Russia editor-in-chief and socialite Ksenia Sobchak announced her intention to run in the 2018 presidential elections. The Russian opposition is inclined to consider Sobchak's candidacy a Kremlin political ploy aimed at syphoning off support for Navalny; however, according to another theory, she made her decision to run independently.

It is worth noting that Sobchak is the daughter of Anatoly Sobchak, President Putin's political mentor and former mayor of Saint Petersburg.

Sobchak announced her candidacy in an open letter in Vedomosti, the newspaper that originally hinted at possible presidential administration approval for her candidacy. She concluded her open letter with the phrase "Against Everyone," which has become her campaign slogan.

(See MEMRI Special Dispatch N. 7156, Reactions To Russian 'It Girl' Sobchak's Candidacy For 2018 Russian Presidential Elections, October 31, 2017; See MEMRI Special Dispatch N. 7154, Memorable Political Tweets By Russian Presidential Hopeful Sobchak, October 30, 2017)

Ksenia Sobchak (Source:, October 18, 2017)

Ekaterina Gordon: The Singer-Socialite

Ekaterina Gordon, the singer-songwriter, journalist and socialite, was the first to declare her candidacy after Sobchak. Gordon claimed that her candidacy would probably be unique since it was not coordinated with the presidential administration. Gordon said that her presidential campaign will focus on the rights of women and children.

(, October 30, 2017)

In her YouTube message announcing her presidential ambitions, Gordon said: "I tried in the past to participate in opposition activities. I have also tried to find a common language with the pro-Kremlin representatives. I came to the conclusion that everyone is being fed from the same plate and in fact is trying to fulfill its own ambitions or make some money."

(, October 30, 2017)

Ekaterina Gordon (Source:

Samson Sholademi: The African-Russian Blogger And Entrepreneur

Another contestant is Samson Sholademi, a Russian blogger and businessmen of African descent. He said that he is running in order to confront the specific problems of two Moscow districts - including air-pollution and poor construction planning. Sholademi stated:" I'm sober in calculating my chances and understand that I can't expect much. On the other hand Russia is a country of great possibilities".

(, November 2, 2017)

On his telegram channel, Shaledemi wrote: "I seriously intend to run. Not many things - both financial and organizational - are needed to start off. In order to be officially nominated one should gather an initiative group of 500 people, hold a meeting and be nominated for the presidency on its behalf." He also mentioned that 615 people voted for him in the Ivanovskoye district during the September 10th municipal elections.

(, November 3, 2017)

In his municipal election campaign, he provoked controversy when he used the slogan: "I promise to work like a nigger for my constituents."

(, August 18, 2017)

Samson Sholademi (Source:

Elena Berkova: The Porn-Actress

Porn-actress Elena Berkova has also proclaimed her candidacy. In her Instagram account, a half-naked Berkova talks about sexual education, proposes introducing the death penalty for sexual harassment and recommends that special psychological, medical and judicial permission be a prerequisite for conceiving children.

(, November 2, 2017)

Elena Berkova (Source:

Anfisa Chekhova: The Model

Anfisa Chekhova, TV-host, model and Russian sex-symbol, also announced that she is planning to participate in the presidential elections. The Russian "Party of Good Deeds" proposed her candidacy.

(, October 31, 2017)

Anfisa Chekhova (Source:




[1], November 3, 2017.

[2], November 3, 2017.

[3] MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7154, Navalny And The Presidential Campaign, October 30, 2017.

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