Mikhail Prokhorov announces plans to take on Vladimir Putin in Russian presidential election
Mikhail Prokhorov announces plans to take on Vladimir
Putin in Russian presidential election
He spent several days in jail but was later cleared of all charges.
Poses threat to Putin's campaign - whose authority has been dented by fraud allegations
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In another blow, at least one regional governor quit in protest over the handling of the elections.
Protesters: Demonstrators rally
against election fraud at the Bolotnaya Square in Moscow
Prokhorov, the 46 year old owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, declared he would run as
Putin slapped down a fresh parliamentary poll, the key demand of tens of thousands of protesters
who took to the streets across Russia at the weekend.
He said he had been working quietly and calmly building the infrastructure that I need to collect the
2.5 million signatures" to register in the race.
The tycoon said at the time: 'In this country there is a puppet master who long ago privatised the
political system, who has long misinformed the Russian leadership about what is going on in the
political system, puts pressure on the media, and tries to manipulate citizens' opinions. I am going in
with my head held high and am not afraid.'
Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov - his country's most eligible bachelor - could present a real threat to
the strongman premier if he can enlist the support of voters furious over ballot rigging claims in last
week's parliamentary elections.
But the strongman faced more problems yesterday as his former trusted finance minister Alexei
Kudrin threatened to set up a new right-of-centre political party - and to campaign against Putin.
'We have a parliament that is completely leftist,' he said, vowing to build his programme "on a
complete lack of populism" and call for reforms that would strengthen Russia's middle class.
Yesterday he said he had decided to become Surkov's boss by beating Putin and becoming president.
'I have made the most serious decision in my life. Vladimir Putin is to be challenged by one of
Russia's richest tycoons in the Kremlin presidential election scheduled for March.
This came yesterday as the Kremlin's pollster abruptly stopped issuing figures for politicians'
ratings, amid suspicions that Putin's showing has suddenly slumped.
Putin aide Dmitry Peskov claimed that the fraud allegations touch less than one per cent of the vote
so " it will in no way affect the legitimacy of the election".
His big cash windfall came in selling the world's largest nickel mine in Norilsk.
Anti Putin: A demonstrator holds a poster showing a manipulated photograph of Russian Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin and bearing the words,Â 'No! 2050'
'It is not in my nature to stop halfway,' he said.
Prokhorov - like most business figures - used to be reluctant to cross Putin.
'I am not doing anything illegal. I am running for president.'
'Society is waking up,' said the 6ft 8 inch businessman worth Â£11.5 billion of dramatic people
power protests led by the disillusioned middle classes.
Bid for presidency: Mikhail
Prokhorov (pictured) has declared he will run against Putin in the election
See the man prepared to take on Putin
Fraud allegations: Russian PM Vladimir Putin's authority has been
Map locating cities across
Russia where protesters demanded end to Vladimir Putin's rule
By Jessica Satherley
Detailed charts of Russia's
parliamentary election results
But he is furious after his bid to set up a political party Right Cause several months ago ended in
failure after it was blocked by Putin crony Vladislav Surkov.
The one-time street jeans-seller backed many of the anti-Putin slogans voiced at the demonstrations,
Mikhail Prokhorov declared he will run in the March presidential election
Updated: 00:21 GMT, 13 December 2011
Often seen with attractive women, Prokhorov was arrested at a French ski resort in 2007 on
suspicion of making prostitutes available to guests. This puppet master is named Vladislav Surkov.'
Tycoon: Mikhail Prokhorov is
the owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team (pictured playing against the Toronto Raptors)
And the Public Opinion Foundation - one of Russia's main pollsters - abruptly stopped issuing ratings
Asked if he feared the fate of the last billionaire to challenge Putin - Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was
jailed on corruption charges - he said:
'We continue to conduct surveys on a weekly basis, but the results are not being released to the
public,' amid claims it is due to a further slide in Putin's ratings, already down from 80 per cent to
just over 50 per cent.