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Naomi Campbell to Join United Russia

Supermodel Naomi Campbell is set to become a member of United Russia, a source in the party said Thursday, adding that the party saw her as an asset who could become the faction's new poster girl.

“She is a young, sexy, intelligent woman who has shown how the new Russia can attract the best in the world,” said the source, who asked for his name not to be used because he was not authorized to speak to the press despite working in the United Russia press office.

“Once she modernized the fashion world, now she is part of the modernization of Russia,” the source said.

The British model, who is engaged to real estate mogul Vladislav Doronin, currently spends much of her time in Moscow and recently guest edited the Russian edition of Vogue, where she appeared clothed in only a big snake.

The source’s use of the term "modernization" is a deliberate echo of President Dmitry Medvedev’s call for the modernization of the country.

The source refused to say if party head and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin or Medvedev knew of Campbell’s interest in United Russia.

“Miss Campbell takes an active interest in all aspects of life in Russia,” said a spokesperson for the model when asked about possible membership.

Analysts said that the recruitment was unlikely to have taken place without the Kremlin's knowledge. Doronin, whose company has built a number of skyscrapers in Moscow, was among the invited audience when Putin became head of the party on April 1, 2006.

Duma deputy and political pundit Sergei Markov said that he had seen Kremlin adviser Vladislav Surkov speaking to Campbell behind the scenes at a recent show during Russian Fashion Week.

“I have no knowledge of any membership offer,” said Markov, “But [rhythmic and athletic] gymnasts Kabayeva and Svetlana Khorkina have shown that women with a strong presence in previous nonpolitical spheres can become capable members of United Russia.”

Markov refused to say at which show the pair were seen together or why he was at the show.

United Russia regularly uses celebrities to boost the recognition factor of its party list at elections, and in recent years a number of sports and celebrity figures have become United Russia deputies.

Apart from Kabayeva and Khorkina, Nikolai Rastorguyev, the lead singer of Lube, Putin’s favorite band, recently became a State Duma deputy.

“Let’s get her to be a member first, “ the party source said, joking that “If she is ever more popular than Lube, we’ll see about the Duma.”

If Campbell becomes a member, most likely honorary because of her British citizenship, said the source, she would be the highest-profile black member of the party. She will be the second or third black member, he said, “I think.”

Two United Russia deputies confirmed the story, but asked not to be named, saying the 38-year-old model was a “wonderful girl” and “not as tall as she looks in the magazines.”

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