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Celebrity anti-Putin activist suffers $l million defeat

Money slated for protests, disorder, police witnesses claim

MOSCOW — Russian TV presenter and prominent anti-Vladimir Putin activist Ksenia Sobchak failed on Thursday to persuade a court to order the return of more than $1 million in cash seized last month when police raided her apartment.

Sobchak, a socialite and one of the more unlikely faces of the wave of opposition protests around rigged parliamentary and presidential elections since December, insists the dollars, euros and rubles found stuffed into hundreds of envelopes is legal and hers.

Police witnesses at Moscow’s Basmanny Court claimed the money was intended to finance protests and public disorder.

A judge rejected Sobchak’s application to have the money returned without giving a reasons for the decision.

Sobchak has claimed the Kremlin was behind a move to ditch her from presenting music channel Muz-TV’s televised awards.

She has rejected charges that the money was stashed to avoid paying taxes, saying that all her taxes are up to date and that she “has the right” to keep cash as home as she does not trust Russian banks.

Sobchak is the daughter of the late Anatoly Sobchak, a reformist mayor of St. Petersburg whom Putin worked closely with 20 years ago. Sobchak died of a heart attack, suspected to have been poison-induced, 12 years ago while on a trip to support Putin’s presidential election.

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