''Talks about Ksenia Sobchak as president seem to me strange and premature''

The candidate ''against everyone'' meets with her supporters in Kazan and brings the ideas of federalism to Tatarstan

''Talks about Ksenia Sobchak as president seem to me strange and premature'' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

The correspondent of Realnoe Vremya accompanied Ksenia Sobchak during her visit in Kazan. Whether the candidate ''against everyone'' believes in her success in the presidential election 2018 and why she came as an uninvited guest to the Executive Committee of Kazan — read in the report of Realnoe Vremya.

A little more federalism brought to Kazan before the New Year

The main feature of the presidential campaign 2018 is that there is one super candidate and there are many new faces diluting the usual leaders of the Duma parties. This campaign can't be called boring despite the predictable result. It is evident that political strategists eat their bread not in vain. Meanwhile, this format is best suitable for testing new technologies and the introduction of new faces into the politics. The presidential race 2018 without exaggeration is a business incubator, and each candidate — an innovative entrepreneur.

The Republic of Tatarstan also has its specialty in this new market of political offers. If to compare the political marathon with tourism, we get an interesting example. For example, wealthy people go to Milan for shopping. To Antalya, there go less wealthy people to forget about work and loans. To Kazan, the candidates for presidents of the Russian Federation go to talk about regional diversity of the country and federalism. The first to do it in this electoral cycle was Grigory Yavlinsky with his new fiscal policy. The candidate ''against everyone'' nominated by the political party Civil Initiative, Ksenia Sobchak, came to the capital of Tatarstan with the federalist agenda before the New Year.

The official reason for the visit was the opening of the campaign headquarters in Kazan

''Eat chak-chak – vote for Sobchak''

The official reason for the visit was the opening of the campaign headquarters in Kazan. Although, as the organizers assured, the staff had already been working for a couple of days, during which they managed to collect more than 100 signatures in support of the candidate. They welcomed Sobchak at the entrance to the headquarters chanting: ''Sobchak! Against everyone!'' The walls of the headquarters were taped with detailed explanation of the main slogan: ''Against censorship'', ''Against thieves'', ''Against war''. But in the speeches, there were few of this ''against''. Another slogan spontaneously appeared at the meeting of the candidate with presenting the traditional Tatar treats: ''Eat chak-chak — vote for Sobchak.'' Further communication went by a given vector of localization of the party programme to the realities of the Republic of Tatarstan.

''You have a wonderful city, wonderful republic. And I'm sure there are a lot of people who support one of the main ideas of my programme. Along with alternation of power and independent judiciary, it is federalism. This means more freedom for different regions, more freedom for Tatarstan. Because we shouldn't dictate from Moscow whether your children need to learn the Tatar language or not. It's a decision that should be taken at local, regional level. I want you here to decide your life for yourself, your budget should be filled differently and not go to Moscow. I believe that federalism is the basis of our future modern Russia. Yes, we are one big country, but we are all different and some things should differ from region to region,'' Sobchak immediately addressed to her audience after announcing technical details.

Sobchak is not against Grudinin

The programme of Sobchak's visit was extremely brief. The time for communication with media was reduced to minimum. The only thing that Realnoe Vremya found out, while we were moving around the city, is the attitude of Ksenia to the new charismatic member of the presidential race from the Communist Party — Pavel Grudinin. On the question whether Grudinin poses danger to the values that form the basis of the programme of Sobchak, the candidate ''against everyone'' replied that ''for my programme, the threat is Vladimir Putin and non-alternation of power. The more other candidates there are, the better it is.'' Then security service interfered, and the correspondent had to put off other questions.

The programme of Sobchak's visit was extremely brief

Over the hours spent in Kazan, Sobchak managed to do a few things. First, she answered the questions from the audience in the headquarters. The audience was diverse: from Tatar nationalists to an intelligent woman of advanced years, who described herself as ''a woman in a knitted hat.'' The nationalists praised the federalist agenda, Ksenia replied the woman that she had exactly the same hat. Second, Sobchak held a personal reception of the citizens. She made a surprise to the Executive Committee of Kazan, appearing there for coordination of a picket. She also took a photo near the Kul Sharif Mosque, held a meeting in the hotel Mirage.

The most successful part of the visit, in our opinion, was a visit to the school for intellectually passionate children Solntse. Coincidentally, the most notable from local supporters of federalism in matters of education, after former minister Fattakhova, was director of this school Pavel Shmakov. Shmakov refused to fire a teacher of the Tatar language and is still suing the prosecutor office on the interference in the life of the school. No matter how you treat Sobchak, she best of many presidential candidates understands the young audience. Therefore, the conversation was quite sincere.

No matter how you treat Sobchak, she best of many presidential candidates understands the young audience

''Kinda'' election and the relationship with Kadyrov

At the short meeting of Sobchak with her supporters in the hotel Mirage, Realnoe Vremya was one of two media publications that managed to ask a question. In the crowded hall there again were voiced the topics of autonomy and broad powers of the regions. However, the candidate came to the paradoxical conclusion that now only strong regional leaders with authoritarian, ''ruler'' character can confront the authoritarian course of Moscow. Having remembered the complicated relationships of Sobchak with the leadership of the Chechen Republic and the previously mentioned point about the double standards of Moscow in relation to Kazan and Grozny, we asked how President Sobchak was going to build relations with Ramzan Kadyrov. The candidate's response clarifies a lot:

''I want to reiterate that the talks on the topic of Ksenia Sobchak as president seem to me strange and premature. I have no illusions on this. I haven't gone to space. I live in real Russia and see what is happening, I go to the elections just to be a voice for those people who don't agree with the regime that our state has. I have no illusions about this ''kinda'' election. I just understand that in any situation, that we even don't like, we should not be silent and to tell our ''no'' to this government and to express our ''against everyone''. That is how I have been taught from my childhood.

In this sense, it is a rare case when participation in this ''kinda election'' gives an opportunity to speak on the federal TV channels what I was not allowed to tell all these years. They never showed the position of my associates — journalists of the TV channel Dozhd, never showed my position, and now they have to do it. There are time norms established by the law for all candidates. This is why I am running for president.

I live in real Russia and see what is happening, I go to the elections just to be a voice for those people who don't agree with the regime that our government has

The answer to your question is very simple. When we live in the ideal model for Russia in my understanding, this is the model of parliamentary republic. It will be a model, when not president Sobchak, a Pupkin or any other will have to build relations with Kadyrov, it will be a model in which strong government, strong parliament will have to build relations with all regions.

And I think in the future, as soon as Putin leaves, Kadyrov and all those people with whom this ''cover-up'' works will also immediately disappear. Do you think that everyone loves Kadyrov in Chechnya? You see, fear, love and respect are still sometimes different things. I'm pretty sure in Russia strong parliament should decide such issues and strong government should engage in such meetings and discussions, everything should not close up on one person. While we close everything up on one person, no matter what his last name — Putin or whatever, we will have exactly the same problems. Anyone will seize power and become those on whom the hierarchy closes.''

Why are politicians with bold ideas worse than ambitious entrepreneurs?

Immediately after the meeting with her supporters and the press, Ksenia Sobchak accompanied by the employees of the central headquarters went to the airport. Those who did not have time to ask questions loudly expressed their disappointment. The rest left the hotel complex from the Kazan Kremlin. From the representatives of local authorities (excluding surprised officers of the Executive Committee) accompanying the candidate ''against everyone'', there were only employees of the center for extremism prevention, carefully shooting everything on camera. Maybe, republican authorities, who attract businessmen with bold ideas to Tatarstan, should also pay attention to politicians? If they come with federalist agenda, why not use it? It certainly won't hurt the relations with the Chechen Republic, this cooperation has deeper foundations. But an opportunity for maneuver won't hurt.

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By Mark Shishkin. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov