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How Russia’s Kardashian Came in the from the Cold

Ksenia Sobchak
Ksenia Sobchak, one of Russia’s most famous and influential media personalities. Photo: Victor Boyko/Getty Images
Julia Ioffe
November 8, 2022

On the evening of October 24, two young Russian men, eager observers and participants in the social fabric of their capital’s fashionable elite, were dining in Regent by Rico, a hip Moscow restaurant specializing in steaks and seafood. As they dined, Arian Romanovsky, who used to edit Russia’s edition of Tatler, and Kirill Sukhanov, the financial functionary of a new media company, were arrested. They were taken to jail and questioned—Romanovsky said he was not allowed to have his lawyer present—and a judge ordered them held in prison for two months. Their alleged crime was “information blocking,” the practice of charging people money in order to take down derogatory information about them or never posting it to begin with—essentially, gossip racketeering. 

Sukhanov and Romanovsky had been running this scheme on their new but already popular Telegram channel “Turn Off the Lights,” according to investigators, charging the richest and most famous Russians hundreds of thousands of dollars to take down negative posts. According to two people who know them, the allegations sound pretty close to the truth.