VLADAMIR Putin's "goddaughter" has been threatened with beheading after backing "hero" Emmanuel Macron in the row over controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
Ksenia Sobchak, 38, a reality TV star and ex-presidential election candidate, sparked a furious backlash after defending the French president.
She had attacked Ramzan Kadyrov, the Muslim leader of oil-rich Chechnya region, after he claimed Macron was "forcing people into terrorism….not leaving them any choice" by justifying the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
A powerful ally of Putin, Kadyrov had accused Macron of attempting to belittle the values of Muslims.
Sobchak, who once posed for Playboy and is rumoured to be Putin's goddaughter, hit back at Kadyrov’s "strange medieval understanding of an attack on values".
She described Macron as her "hero" and praised his support of freedom which is being "crushed around the world".
"If you don't want to look at cartoons of the prophet, don't look at them," she wrote in an Instagram post, which has received 84,000 comments.
"Do you want to sit wrapped up to your eyes on the beach in Nice?
"It’s your right. And mine is to wear a bikini.
"Is this simple truth so difficult for humanity? If you don't like something, DO NOT LOOK, LEAVE, DO NOT BE INVOLVED."
She added: "Freedom is the most valuable thing a person has."
The post, shared with her 7.9 million followers, prompted a barrage of violent threats, Sobchak said.
A day after three worshippers were killed in a terror attack in Nice – including an elderly woman who was partially beheaded – one disturbing message threatened to behead Sobchak if she did not remove the post.
"Her head will be off too if she does not remove the post," the message said.
"Hands off our prophet Mohammed. And she must apologise to Muslims or else…
"There’s no problem finding you, so you better pick up your phone."
Another threat in the wake of the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty in Paris earlier this month said: "I am a person who defends his prophet from sh**-eaters like yourself.
"Better die yourself before you are stabbed to death just like that French sh** of yours."
Russian mixed martial arts fighter Magomed Ismailov described her as a "filthy dumb animal".
Sobchak, often dubbed Russia's homegrown version of Paris Hilton, said she was reporting the threats to police.
She said: "People who write things like this, do you realise that by doing this you dishonour normal, law-abiding Muslims?”
After attacking Macron, Kadryov was unusually slapped down by the Kremlin, and told to keep out of foreign policy issues.
The Chechen leader said he was ready to be fired over the matter, but he was speaking as a Muslim not a politician.
"I cannot and will not silently watch atheists scoffing at religion," he said.
The row with France flared after the death of Paty, who showed pupils cartoons of the Prophet published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The 47-year-old was beheaded by 18-year-old Abdullah Anzorov on October 17 after using the cartoons to teach his students about the importance of free speech.
The image he showed students was the same one published by Charlie Hebdo which sparked the attack on the magazine's offices that killed 12.
Thousands of demonstrators have denounced France in protests in several Muslim countries amid the row over Macron's defence of the right to publish the cartoons.
Hundreds of protesters in Tunisia, Pakistan, Israel, Palestine, Russia, Iran and Bangladesh have taken to the streets to burn pictures of Macron and take a stand against the caricatures.
The caricatures are considered blasphemous by Muslims.
The French government saw the knife attack as an attack on freedom of speech and Macron has said he would redouble efforts to stop conservative Islamic beliefs subverting French values.
The French president denounced the Nice bloodbath on Thursday as an "Islamic terror attack" and defiantly said the nation would not "give up on our values".
The suspected terrorist, Brahim Aoussaoui, 21, arrived in Europe just weeks before launching Thursday's attack in Nice, using a foot-long knife to butcher his victims.
Sobchak, who praised Macron for his defence of freedom of speech, ran in the 2018 Russian presidential election against victorious Putin, finishing in fourth place.
Sobchak is the daughter of Anatoly Sobchak, the reformist former mayor of St Petersburg who hired Putin as an official in City Hall in the 1990s.
Anatoly, who died in 2000, became a mentor to Putin. Sobchak’s mother, Lyudmila Narusova, sits in the upper house of the Russian parliament.
Announcing her bid to stand against Putin two years ago, Sobchak said she had hoped to appeal to the growing number of liberal voters unhappy with Putin’s many years in office.
"I decided to exercise that right because I am against all of those (candidates) who usually exercise that right," she said.
"When I was 18 and was studying in university, Vladimir Putin became president of Russia. Children who were born that year will go and vote themselves this year. Just think about that."
Ksenia Sobchak’s Instagram account often features photographs of her dressed in designer outfits and appearing at glitzy society events.
After graduating from the prestigious MGIMO university in Moscow, she became a nationwide celebrity when she hosted a Russian reality TV show called Dom 2.
She became active in opposition politics around the time that Putin, in 2012, was re-elected to the presidency after stepping down for four years to comply with constitutional term limits.
She appeared at opposition rallies, spoke out against the Kremlin on social media, and recast herself as a news anchor for the Rain broadcaster.
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