Dissident Dancer

Article excerpt

Byline: Anna Nemtsova

In a spectacularly public falling-out, the Kremlin's favorite court ballerina turns on Russia's ruling party.

Until last month, Anastasia Volochkova--long-limbed, big-boned, blue-eyed--was the Kremlin's official court ballerina and a larger-than-life celebrity. Her talent, beauty, and eccentric lifestyle (nude photographs, juicy private dramas) fueled a national obsession and made her the darling of Kremlin apparatchiks, oligarchs, and commoners alike.

But now Volochkova has fallen out with the country's ruling party, United Russia, in typically sensational fashion. She publicly accused the party of being a "Stalinist-style repressive" authority and a "bunch of corrupt liars." She claimed that in 2005, without her knowledge, the party signed her name on a letter in support of the imprisonment of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. In a parting shot at the Kremlin, she called Khodorkovsky "more of a man" than any member of the ruling party, and said she'll join "any alternative opposition group of brave men"--comments seemingly aimed at Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's cherished masculinity.

Volochkova is no stranger to drama. Her backstage battles put the intrigues of the Black Swan ballerinas to shame. …