Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, December 12, 2011

Look over here

Mikhail Prokhorov has been flirting with politics for quite awhile. Some of the flirting has been done with the cooperation of Putin and Medvedev. Now, he seems to be taking on the leadership directly. Or has he been recruited as Potemkin Village candidate?

Billionaire to Oppose Putin in Russian Presidential Election
Amid a crescendo of complaints from Russians fed up with the country’s tightly controlled political system, two prominent figures — a billionaire industrialist and the recently ousted finance minister — sought to fill a void in the opposition leadership on Monday.

Mikhail D. Prokhorov announced his plan to contest the Russian presidency on Monday in Moscow.

The billionaire, Mikhail D. Prokhorov, who owns shares in a major gold mining company and an array of other ventures in Russia as well as the New Jersey Nets basketball franchise in the United States, said he will run for president, challenging Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin.

“I made a decision, probably the most serious decision in my life: I am going to the presidential election,” Mr. Prohkorov said at a news conference. He has barely appeared in public since mid-September, when he was dramatically removed as the head of a pro-business party, Just Cause, after clashing with Kremlin political strategists.

“You may remember, the Kremlin removed me and my allies from Just Cause, and we were not allowed to do what we wanted,” he said. “It is not in my nature to stop halfway. So for the last two and a half months we sat and worked, very calmly and quietly, and we created all the infrastructure to collect two million signatures,” which are needed to get on the ballot…

For Mr. Prokhorov, whose business interests include a stake in the Atlantic Yards development in downtown Brooklyn, his leap into presidential politics could be risky. He is the first wealthy businessman to pursue a political goal in Russia against the governing authorities since the 2003 arrest of Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, the former chairman of the Yukos Oil Company, who was jailed after he began financing an opposition party. He remains in prison.

The Kremlin is clearly considering blessing a liberal party, after the backlash that has emerged in recent days.

In an interview that was posted Tuesday on the Web site of Ekho Moskvy radio station, Kremlin strategist Vladislav Y. Surkov said he supported the creation of “a mass liberal party or, more precisely, a party for the annoyed urban communities,” and that in order for Russia’s political system to survive, it needed to open up to “new players.”

Previous blog posts about Mr. Prokhorov

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