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20 Apr, 2009 06:20

Meet Masha: young political superstar or PR failure?

While many young girls dream of stardom on the catwalk or the silver screen, one Russian student has set her sights on conquering the political stage.

Twenty-four year old Masha Sergeeva has the looks, ambition, and patriotism. More importantly, she also has the backing of Russia’s major political party.

Glamour with a Russian note

Masha is a passionate supporter of her country:

“The clothes I have on right now are Russian brands,” she said.

“I know Russian cars leave much to be desired, but we should make them better. I just think it’s not right for people to say: ‘I love my country, but not Russian brands’.”

The number of her fans rivals the number of her foes. Her Soviet-style performance at the pro-Kremlin rally near Red Square caused a sensation and nearly jammed Russia’s largest political blog with posts about Masha.

“I’m sure my party, Medvedev and Putin will protect me from the crisis, and they will not let me be unemployed,” she confidently stated to the crowd then.

Destined for Duma?

Her next step is to get elected to parliament – the Russian State Duma. The country’s ruling party United Russia promotes young talent through pro-Kremlin youth groups.

Robert Shlegel, who is 24 and the youngest politician to sit in the State Duma, is a supporter of Sergeyeva.

“If it weren’t for my youth movement I wouldn’t have been here. I know Masha very well, she’s a zealous activist and she’s never afraid of straight-talk,” he said.

A couple of years ago she was an ardent critic of United Russia, but when the Democratic Party she was a part of decided it wanted to join the EU, she switched sides.

Now she’s known for her ardent speeches against the radical opposition.

“Today I’m an even bigger critic of the United Russia party than before. I criticize it from within. And I think that's the best way to change the system – through constructive criticism,” Masha explained.

‘Masha is a PR Stunt’

She might be ‘the bold and the beautiful’ of the future political elite – or just a part of the Ruling party’s plan to promote good looks and inject some fresh blood in Russian politics.

“Masha Sergeyeva is a PR project,” said PR expert Vladimir Kravtsov.

“She herself was involved with a PR agency. The thing is that all such PR projects eventually come to an end, and very few actually make it to big politics.”

Masha Sergeyeva is not shy of sharing her plans.

“So far I’m too young, but eventually I see myself in executive power, maybe in 10 years – a minister.”

Masha Sergeyeva's blog (in Russian)