MOSCOW - According to a recent survey, Ksenia Sobchak, the young television personality turned opposition activist, is the most widely recognized of all the people involved in the opposition movement in Russia.
An amazing 93 percent of respondents said they knew who she was, while other leading cultural figures who have also been involved in the Russian opposition could not crack 70 percent recognition rates, and even opposition politicians did not come close to being as well known around the country.
Unfortunately for the star, that does not mean everyone likes her. A full 44 percent said that their opinion of Sobchak is generally negative, much more so than for other figures in the movement.
According to Aleksander Demindov, professor of Sociology at the Higher School of Economics, there is nothing surprising in Sobchak’s prominence, considering that she is on television, and that most Russians do not actually read the works of the famous writers who also are involved in the political movements. Also, Sobchak was famous before she had anything to do with the opposition movement.
According to the director of the All-Russia Opinion Research Center, which conducted the study, “Sobchak’s fame is from shows for the masses. She hasn’t managed to rebrand herself successfully. So she brings fame to the protest movement, but it’s a fame that has negative connotations for many viewers.”
According to Leonid Gosman, a participant in the protest movement, the opposition protests that started in December 2011 arose organically from feelings of the people involved, not because somebody organized it. “This is not a protest with a leader, it is not Navalni and Sobchak’s party. From the very beginning the mass of citizens that came out to protests didn’t consider them their leaders,” he said.