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Multi-billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has disappointed those who have seen him as a future founder of a future influential liberal right-of-center party. On Monday he broke a long pause to have declared the creation of the party called Civil Platform, which will have a mere 500 members and no leaders or ideology. He said it will be a party of new type, having no counterparts elsewhere in the world. Prokhorov is certain that all this will help the party promptly react to the challenges of time, and civil society, to promote worthy leaders to commanding positions.
Experts do not believe this party project will have a future, though. They offer a variety of explanations of this extravagant step.
Prokhorov, who actively manifested himself as a figure of significance in Russian politics only a year ago to have taken part in last March’s presidential elections, believes that political parties have outlived themselves in their current form. Therefore, the Civil Platform party “will be very specific – it will have just 500 members – mostly lawyers and regional leaders.” He explained that there would be no VIPs among them. “Our focus is on cities with a population of 500,000 and more. We shall be working there and preparing candidates for local elections. That will be the framework of Russia.”
Prokhorov believes that a new political structure will be registered at the Justice Ministry. “The process will go on in the natural way. You shall never learn the date of the congress. The party will be a school, where the rank-and-file will undergo instruction. There will be no high-profile names. It is going to be like a social network, in which nobody knows the administrators, but everybody knows the founder.”
To the questions of curious journalists about who will be the leader of the new party, Prokhorov replied in an evasive way. “He who will be able to. I won’t.” The businessman also declared that he would be cooperating extensively with Alexei Kudrin’s Committee of Civil initiatives. He offered some very warm comments about the former finance minister, who will not join the new party, either.
Also unsuccessful were the attempts to worm out an answer to the question about Civil Platform’s ideology. “Stop dividing us into right- and left-wingers, into ‘ours’ and ‘not ours’,” Prokhorov said. “Today there is no class struggle, we all want to have a good health service, good education, good roads and a safe life.”
He sounded likewise evasive when asked about his participation in early parliamentary or presidential elections, saying that he regarded them as unrealistic, just as the slogans of opposition protests due on June 12: “I do not see the Opposition’s positive agenda. Their slogans lead nowhere.”
At the same time, Prokhorov said he was not going to refuse to cooperate with the authorities. “There are different people with different views.” At the same time Prokhorov did not rule out that he might contest the post of Moscow’s mayor.
Prokhorov promised that he had not agreed his decision to create a party in such a format with the government or with the Kremlin. A Kremlin official quoted by the daily Vedomosti has said that the presidential staff will be neither helping Prokhorov nor interfering with what he will be doing.
Prokhorov had declared his plans to create a right-of-center liberal party of his own back at the beginning of the presidential election campaign. In the presidential election he placed third, with 8% of the votes. After that he declared a contest for the best name of a future party. Still earlier he had an unsuccessful experience of political leadership in the Right Cause party, which he failed to transform into an influential liberal force.
Prokhorov’s former close associate and one of the ex-leaders of Right Cause, Boris Nadezhdin, suspects that in reality Prokhorov’s actions had been agreed at the very top in the Kremlin. Nadezhdin responded with understanding to the intention to NOT create anything serious, because the next federal level elections are due in four years’ time, and having and financing a large party all that time would make little sense.
“It looks like Prokhorov himself does not understand what he needs the party for,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta quotes the general director of the International Institute for Political Expertise, Yevgeny Minchenko, as saying. “One has the impression that he had promised someone to create a party, and now he feels awkward to backtrack. He sounded no clear concept of building the party. The sole sensible role that such a party might be expected to play will be that of a spoiler.”
For full-scale work the party will need at least 5,000 members. Yabloko has 60,000, the party’s leader, Sergei Mitrokhin, is quoted by Vedomosti as saying. Prokhorov’s project is not a party, but a simulation, he believes. It has no purpose or ideology. It is a tool of depoliticizing society.
“Either Prokhorov has fallen victims to some charlatans, or he is trying to decently bow out of a situation following his promise to create a new party. World politics offer no analogues of what he has offered to establish,” political technologist Konstantin Kalachyov is quoted by the daily Kommersant as saying.
“This form of a party project resembles a structure used by sects. But it is clear that a party without an ideology or a leader is not a party. I believe that Prokhorov and his political technologists have overdid it,” says political scientist Alexei Mukhin. It is going to be not a party, but a closed club for select few, to be run by Mikhail Prokhorov in person.
MOSCOW, June 5