By LIUDAS DAPKUS – Associated Press
VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Russian TV personality Ksenia Sobchak — the glamorous daughter of former Russian President Vladimir Putin’s boss — has arrived in Lithuania with an Israeli passport after fleeing Russian investigators who raided her home. her this week, officials said Thursday.
“Citizens (of Israel) do not need a visa and are allowed to stay in the country for 90 days,” Darius Jauniskis, head of Lithuania’s State Security Department, told a radio station. local. Jauniskis said Lithuania had no evidence of any threat Sobchak might pose to national security.
“If we had something, some appropriate measures would be taken,” he told Ziniu Radijas station.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told reporters that “Ms. Sobchak is currently not on any EU, UK or US sanctions list. can’t happen.
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Landbergis said Sobschak may have already left Lithuania as she entered Europe’s passport-free travel zone – a zone of 26 countries made up of most EU members plus Iceland, the Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Israeli citizens with a valid passport can travel freely within the European visa-free zone, known as the Schengen area.
“Ms. Sobchak may have already left Lithuanian territory because she is not restricted in her movements to Poland, to other European countries or to the north,” he said, according to the Baltic News Service, the region’s main news agency.
Video from a surveillance camera shows Sobchak walking into Lithuania and talking to border officials.
Lithuania and other Baltic states as well as Poland stopped admitting Russian citizens with valid Schengen visas in September, a move aimed at supporting Ukraine. Hundreds were turned away, but many still entered after presenting passports from other countries at the border.
Sobchak, 40, has often criticized Putin, but many Russian opposition figures have accused her of serving the Kremlin’s agenda. In 2018, she became a liberal candidate in the Russian presidential election, finishing fourth with around 1.7% of the vote in what her critics described as a Kremlin effort to add a democratic veneer to Putin’s sweeping re-election.
Russian media claimed she bought tickets to Dubai and Turkey to fool the authorities, but eventually left for Belarus, from where she traveled to Lithuania. The reports claimed that investigators suspected Sobchak of being involved in an extortion scheme with her media director and alleged that a warrant had been issued for her.
Russia’s Tass news agency also cited reports from the investigation that Sergei Chemezov, a longtime Putin associate who heads state-owned Rostec, a conglomerate controlling Russia’s aircraft industries and other high tech, was the victim of alleged extortion.
The claims could not be independently confirmed.
Sobchak, the daughter of Anatoly Sobchak, a liberal mayor of St. Petersburg for whom Putin served as an MP in the 1990s, has extensive contacts among Russia’s rich and powerful, and the search of her home has dominated the national news.
She has 9.4 million followers on Instagram, and her glamour, quick wit and provocative ways have made her both loved and hated. Sobchak first rose to prominence as a fashionable socialite and reality TV star and was once dubbed the “Russian Paris Hilton”, but later sought to shed her spoiled and arrogant image. She got involved in politics by joining the massive protests in Moscow against Putin in 2011-2012, then reinvented herself as a serious television journalist and opposition activist.
Sobchak denied serving the Kremlin’s agenda by running as Putin’s challenger in 2018. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny denounced her for discrediting the opposition by joining the race, saying she was a ” travesty of a liberal candidate” and her involvement in the campaign helped the Kremlin cast the opposition in a negative light.
Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.
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