Playboy cover star Maria Kozhevnikova wins Russian parliament seat
MARIA Kozhevnikova, a former actress and model who once appeared on the cover of Russian Playboy, is about to take up a seat in parliament for Vladimir Putin's United Russia party.
The 27-year-old has moved swiftly up the ranks after joining the party's youth movement, the Young Guard.
Amid protests over a disputed parliamentary election earlier this month, she defended Mr Putin.
"I've seen Putin close up several times and I want to say that this man has very strong vibes," Miss Kozhevnikova said.
"I've watched how people have changed when they got close to Putin, not because they are afraid, but because they feel a calm and strong confidence. Because of this, the West is afraid of him, and that is understandable."
She echoed Mr Putin in suggesting protests were being funded from outside country.
"A 'strong Russia' cannot be controlled. Mass rallies have never solved the people's problems and answered their aspirations. The people were always just a weapon in the struggle for power."
Miss Kozhevnikova, who posed for Playboy in 2009, is the daughter of an ice hockey star, the Daily Mail reported.
After winning a seat to represent Tomsk in Siberia she said: "For me this is an absolutely big event in my life."
Yesterday, Mr Putin mocked the tens of thousands of Russians who have protested against his rule in recent weeks, dismissing his critics as paid-up agents of the West.