A former Russian supermodel has been bravely helping conscripts flee evil despot Vladimir Putin because she was sick of sitting around “looking pretty”.
Ksenia Maximova has lived in London for upwards of 20 years and has no love of dictatorial Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Russian beauty told the Daily Star her powerful efforts to let Mad Vlad know what she really thinks of him have left her scared to return to Russia and see her mother and grandmother for fear of being arrested.
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Now a top photography agent whose firm regularly gets images on the cover of Vogue, Ksenia’s early days saw her work with the likes of Naomi Campbell in the high-flying ranks of the world’s modelling elite.
But growing tired of “silly fashion standards”, Ksenia embarked on a path that would lead to her working with countries around Russia to supply facilities able to host desperate men fleeing the mindless violence in Ukraine.
“I really, really didn't like it as a career path because I just felt like I wasn't really contributing,” she said.
“It's just kind of like standing there looking pretty and then also, for some reason getting paid crazy amounts of money, which didn't seem quite fair.
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Around 2012, Ksenia started going to London-based anti-Putin rallies, which eventually led to her volunteering for the Anti-Corruption Foundation, a Russian not-for-profit organisation that was founded by outspoken Putin hater and opposition politician Alex Navalny.
Over the years that followed, the Ksenia and the Foundation worked to get Russians needing help – like staff on outspoken university newspapers – out of the country.
When the war in Ukraine broke out, Ksenia and her fellow anti-Putin Russians struggled to find the best way to help out with the cause, often struggling to find the right way to work with Ukrainian activists.
She told the Star: “I was trying to reach out to the Ukrainians and be like, ‘guys, do you need volunteers? Do you need any extra hands to pack the parcels for Ukraine or you know, to meet the refugees or anything at all?’ And they just completely like, ‘no, like, think about your own stuff.’”
The group started fundraising for Ukraine, and the organisation grew and soon became known as the Russian Democratic Society (RDS).
Since then they’ve been working to help people fleeing Russia have as smooth an experience as possible.
“We started helping local refugees and then the most recent development has been that I started this fundraiser for the shelters and countries that border with Russia for the refugees, like people who were fleeing mobilisation.
“Word of mouth travelled a bit and people started writing to me personally, people who would not have been in UK.”
The group would then do everything it could to help Russians displaced following the breakout of the war, who for one reason or another couldn't go back to their home country.
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The work at times has involved getting people wherever they can, with many scattered across countries sharing a border with Russia.
Many Russians have only been able to make it to temporary camps in neighbouring countries, which has seen the RDS working to get them somewhere as safe as possible. Now they need to start a new life.
She said it has been a matter of “just simply getting them outside of Russia to like, wherever we could get them out”.
She added: “There was a point where they were like, basically anyone of conscription age just had a freakout and said ‘Jesus Christ I don't want to go kill people.'”
The organisation says it is trying to help people in any way it can, and the support given to one person is very different to that of another, with over 100 helped in various ways.
Although the flow of men fleeing conscription has slowed down, Ksenia is still focused on doing everything she can to help her compatriots escape her hellish home country.
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