Russian Federation

Billionaire to take on Putin


Mikhail Prokhorov, the third richest man in Russia with an estimated fortune of $18 billion, is to contest the March 2012 presidential election.

Mr Prokhorov made the announcement yesterday despite having dropped out of politics in September when he resigned from the Right Cause party because of a claimed interference of the party campaign by President Dmitri Medvedev.

Mr Prokhorov will need to gather two million signatures in order to stand as an independent presidential candidate, but says that he has been working on his campaign for several months and is confident that he can find the required number.

The last person to take on Vladimir Putin was another billionaire, Mikhail Khodorovsky who ran the Yukos Oil Corporation. He was arrested and imprisoned for 13 years for apparent fraud, tax evasion and oil embezzlement. He had bankrolled some smaller opposition parties.

A number of commentators have suggested that Prokhorov is standing with Putin’s approval to give an air of legitimacy to next year’s presidential election after the problems with the 4th December state Duma elections this year. Prokhorov denies that and says that his campaign will be 10% criticism and 90% solutions. He did not attempt to attack United Russia or Putin in the snap press conference he called to announce his candidacy.

Meanwhile the Russian MICEX Index has continued to tumble on the back of the political uncertainty after the state Duma elections on 4th December. An estimated 40,000+ protesters were out on Saturday with more protests planned after the election they have criticised as rigged.

Former Finance Minister, Alexei Kudrin, who resigned his post on the news that Putin and Medvedev were swapping jobs has said that he wishes to establish a liberal party to embrace the middle class protests. He has confirmed that he has discussed the idea with Prokhorov.

There are a number of other politicians intending to run in the presidential election including Sergei Mironov of A Just Russia (SR), Gennady Zyuganov of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) and Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR).

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