Over the summer, the Cumberbitches were hyperventilating at the thought that Benedict Cumberbatch was banging/dating a Russian model/actress named Katia Elizarova. Katia and Benedict had been seen out together a few times, and it even seemed like he brought her along to Ibiza when he officiated his friends’ gay wedding. Plus, Katia and Benedict were “caught” looking kissy and lovey in Ibiza too. Since then, it seems like Katia is flying her famewhore freak flag, because she loves talking to UK journalists about Benedict. Apparently, he was giving her “acting lessons” but the Ibiza photos were completely “innocent,” Katia claimed: “It looks like we are having a sexy chat, but we were actually discussing what we were going to have off the restaurant menu.”
Well, if it sounds like Katia is rather Kardashian-like, you would be absolutely right. Katia is taking part in a new reality show called “Meet the Russians”. She gave an interview to The Standard and wouldn’t you know? Benedict’s name just happened to come up. Also, Katia seems to be saying that all Russian girls love a good sugar daddy. Oh, Cumberbatch. I can’t believe you fell for this crap. Some highlights:
Ekaterina Igorevna Elizarova is Russian. Her father is an “entrepreneur”, her grandfather was the head of the KGB and her great-grandfather was married to Lenin’s sister. She is a model. Her favourite restaurant is Novikov in Mayfair and her favourite place to hang out is the Saatchi Gallery, partly because, as she says, “it’s just round the corner from me”. She lives in Chelsea. Obviously.
“I do fit the stereotype, don’t I?” she laughs, when we meet at the gallery. “Blonde Russian model living in Chelsea? When I go to a photoshoot the photographers often flirt with me but then they say: ‘Ah but I can’t afford you, can I?’ They expect that I swim in diamonds and pearls!” And she giggles again.
Elizarova, known as Katia, very sweetly insists she is appearing on the new Fox reality TV series, Meet the Russians, to dispel clichés. For example, she says, “I’m 27 and I have to work for my living. I wouldn’t think of buying a T-shirt from Prada when I could buy one from Zara.” As for her apartment, “Well, it’s big enough for me and my cat.” (Balthazar, hairless). “My friends all say I have soft spot for hairless, wrinkly things. Like Russian men!”
Her father, always Western in his outlook, started to “buy and sell things” in the Soviet Union, which, she says, didn’t go down too well. Is he an oligarch? “No!” She laughs. “Absolutely not.” I wonder if being an oligarch is a bit like being a hipster — a label no one would put on themselves? “Some Russian guys do like to think they’re oligarchs and when they do say that, you know they aren’t.”
While she has modelled for Versace, Chanel and the rest, her main work comes as the “muse” of the anglophile Russian billionaire designer, Leon Max. She is adamant that it is her own hard work that keeps her here in Chelsea. “I do actually help my grandmother, and if Mum and Dad do need anything I will help them out. It’s a Russian thing: we do help our parents out. It’s maybe a difference with Eastern European girls. Family ties do not break. I feel a bit sorry for that in England.”
It begins to rain and she seems oddly impressed when I offer to hold her umbrella. Her biggest disappointment with English men is their manners —we’re terrible, I’m afraid. Russian men far better. Even Benedict Cumberbatch? Elizarova was photographed kissing the Sherlock Holmes star in Ibiza recently. “Why do you ask me about him? Oh no!” She tells me she will not answer questions about him, but does say that he has “very nice” manners. Russian women, she explains, like to have doors opened for them and bills paid; they reserve the right to be a “fragile little thing”.
“I find it really upsetting when women tell men off for offering them a seat on the Underground. Feminism doesn’t mean you have to be aggressive to people who are nice to you. I enjoy being a fragile little thing — why not?”
And don’t get her started on English women and alcohol — she is teetotal. “Oh my God, Oxford Circus in the evening!” She gives a horrified intake of breath. “When I see those girls, it’s shocking. You wouldn’t catch a Russian girl walking in bare feet because she can’t be bothered to wear her heels any more, or falling on the pavement and being sick. Drunk men can lie on the street, because boys will be boys. There are some borders women should not cross and that is one of them. It’s just so unattractive.”
Over sushi, we fall to talking about the relative gender relations. Does she find English men weak compared to Russian men? “Weak? Definitely. You will never hear an Englishman say: ‘Don’t worry, I will take care of everything’. With Russians, this is the way. The men take the hit.”
Still, she hopes that Meet the Russians — which will be shown in her homeland as well — will show the Russian audience that it’s not all jam in the UK.
She describes the litany of horrors in provincial Russia, including corrosive home-made narcotics, chronic insecurity and mass unemployment. “You can see why girls want to escape from their depressed towns. But when they come to the West, they often expect their men to be like their provincial men: yes, he might beat her, but he would make sure that there was a roof over her head and that she was protected. There is a saying in Russia, ‘esli byët, znachet lyubit — if he beats you, then he loves you’. So when an Englishman asks for half of the rent, she thinks… ‘Uh-oh, maybe I was better off in Russia!’”
Britain, however, has changed her. “I can’t see myself with a Russian man any more. With Englishmen, I like the freedom that I am given. It’s much more responsibility and I know I have to be stronger. But I can do so much more. In Britain, it is more like teamwork between a man and a woman whereas in Russia everybody is doing what they are assigned to do by nature.”
She is disturbing! Her views on gender relations, her ideas about being “fragile” and letting men take care of her… I get that there are a lot of Russian women who think that way, but maybe they wouldn’t say out loud in an interview. What really disturbs me is the thought that Katia is working this angle on Benedict. And it might have worked. God.
Photos courtesy of WENN.