MOSCOW, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- A model who once graced the cover of the Russian version of Playboy has won a parliamentary seat with Vladimir Putin's United Russia Party.
Maria Kozhevnikova, 27, who won a seat to represent Tomsk in the Russian Parliament, is a former actress and model who posed for Playboy in 2009, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.
"For me this is an absolutely big event in my life," Kozhevnikova said of winning her seat.
Kozhevnikova defended Putin amid protests over this month's disputed parliamentary elections and echoed his statements that the protests were funded by Western interests.
"I've seen Putin close up several times and I want to say that this man has very strong vibes," she said.
"I've watched how people have changed when they got close to Putin, not because they are afraid, but because they feel a calm and strong confidence. Because of this, the West is afraid of him, and that is understandable.
"A 'strong Russia' cannot be controlled. Mass rallies have never solved the people's problems and answered their aspirations. The people were always just a weapon in the struggle for power," Kozhevnikova said.