Putin's Kremlin cronies raid home of political rival who exposed Russian prison torture

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Vladimir Putin’s cronies have raided the home of his political opponent Ksenia Sobchak while she is out of the country. Ms Sobchak is the daughter of President Putin’s political mentor and has been involved in liberal opposition politics for several years, running against Putin for the presidency in 2018.

Russian police on Wednesday searched a house belonging to the journalist, socialite and media personality as part of a criminal case against her commercial director, state-owned news agency TASS reported.

On her Telegram channel, she suggested that the case that triggered the search was politically motivated, and linked to a documentary she had made on the use of torture in Russian prisons.

Her commercial director was detained on October 25 on charges of extortion. TASS cited law enforcement agencies as saying that Sobchak was not a suspect.

A source close to the situation has now told RIA Novosti that Sobchak is no longer in Russia at the moment.

Without specifying details of her trip, the source said Sobchak “went through Belarus to Lithuania”.

Sobchak’s Telegram channel, which frequently carries reports critical of government policy, has 1.4 million followers, but she remains controversial among Russian opposition activists, some of whom accuse her of maintaining links to the Kremlin.

Sobchak faces a criminal investigation over a story that police suspect was “fake”.

TASS reported that Sobchak’s story related to “state funding of festivals” and that she could be charged under an article of Russian law that provides for three-year jail sentences.

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“I am Russian, I am a citizen of Russia,” Sobchak said at the time, “I do not emigrate anywhere, I have no other citizenships.”

Sobchak also criticised Putin in 2018 after she placed fourth in the country’s presidential election in which she faced the Russian President.

“In a system created by Putin, it is only possible for Putin to win,” she said. “I am realistic about who will become the president.”

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