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Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov drops business to engage in politics

October 29, 2012, 14:39 UTC+3

On Saturday, 27, he told a congress of the Civil Platform party (organized at his own initiative) he was ready to be the party’s leader

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Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov has announced his decision to leave his business to go into politics. He placed his assets into trust management of his partners in the ONEXIM group. On Saturday, he told a congress of the Civil Platform party (organized at his own initiative) he was ready to be the party’s leader.

Despite his previous political failures, Prokhorov seems not to lose ambitions, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily writes. The billionaire said he was joining Civil Platform, a third force in the country after the Kremlin and the opposition Coordinating Council, in his words. Prokhorov’s business assets from now on will be managed by his partners in the ONEXIM group, while he will be doing only politics. He promised to cooperate with any political force he could agree with, but for nationalists.

Along with the amended charter, the congress adopted the party’s new program, the Novye Izvestia newspaper notes. The majority of its provisions echo Prokhorov’s program in the presidential campaign. However he called to amend the country’s constitution to cancel division into national areas and republics. “We ourselves created inner borders, national ghettoes, where local corrupted authorities oppress and rob our people of all nationalities,” the newspaper quotes him as saying.

The billionaire wants to devote all his time to politics, for which ends he has joined the party, the Vedomosti newspaper writes. The party’s federal political committee elected Prokhorov the leader of the party.

“Prokhorov focused attention on issues that are of no irritation to the Kremlin. He also refrained from comments on subjects of principal importance for the opposition, such as the problem of political prisoners,” the newspaper cites political scientist Alexei Makarkin. Although, according to the expert, Prokhorov will have to clarify his position on some subjects that might either put his at odds with the Kremlin or avert moderately protest electorate from him.

Prokhorov called his party a third force that will be somewhere in between the pro-Kremlin parties and the off-parliament opposition, the Kommersant daily emphasizes. Meanwhile, political scientist Yevgeny Minchenko is quite doubtful of that.

“So far, Prokhorov’s project does not look promising but it has serious resources, such as a high recognition ratio of the leader and lavish financing. Now Prokhorov’s basic task is to stay afloat avoiding conflicts with the Kremlin and waiting for a moment to plunge into real game,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta notes that the congress was held two weeks after regional elections and long ahead of next elections in the country. A source in the party explained it like this, “If we have held the congress earlier, we would have distracted media from United Russia.” However the party, according to the source sees its mission in drawing angry middle class, Democrats’ traditional electorate. Apart from that, the congress “might avert people’s attention from the opposition’s Coordinating Council,” the source noted.

Experts say Civil Platform might be used as a tool to criticize Dmitry Medvedev’s government, the newspaper notes. According to experts, the task is quite attainable for a tandem of Mikhail Prokhorov and former finance minister Alexei Kudrin. Hence, President Vladimir Putin will be spared from the need to step in, Boris Makarenko, the chairman of the board of the Centre for Political Technologies, told the newspaper. He did not rule out that Civil Platform would intercept RPR-PARNAS’ votes. “The positions of RPR-PARNAS are very weak now and society has a demand for a party like the one created by Prokhorov. If the Right Cause party was not stifled a year ago, it might have won Duma seats,” he said.

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