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Russian President Vladimir Putin's top foe in next month's election isn't a candidate; it's public apathy. But he has one rival who could draw voters to the polls: the celebrity TV host Ksenia Sobchak.With her glamour, sharp wit and defiant ways, Sobchak is both loved and loathed – and maybe is just the candidate the Kremlin needs to give the March 18 election the veneer of legitimacy it so desires.In addition to boosting turnout to make a Putin victory look more impressive, Kremlin strategists also hope that Sobchak will peel away at least some supporters of his most vocal foe, anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, to help split the opposition's ranks.Navalny has been barred from running because of a criminal conviction that is widely seen as politically motivated for challenging Putin's rule. While Navalny has called for boycotting the vote and challenged the authorities with unsanctioned protests, Sobchak argues that his strategy won't succeed.Sobchak argues that she stands for evolutionary change.Sobchak, who is the daughter of Putin's late patron, the former mayor of St. Petersburg, rejects accusations of any collusion with the Kremlin.When she entered the race, Sobchak admitted that she had told Putin about her intention to run, but denied that she was following Kremlin orders.In the AP interview, Sobchak said she believes Russian hackers working with the government interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election – something the Kremlin has steadfastly denied.
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