Putin’s new tycoon rival casts doubts
rival casts doubts Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov’s decision to stand against Vladimir Putin in presidential elections bring about confusion as a debate started on whether it is a genuine challenge or a Kremlin plan to weaken the protests. Prokhorov, on
In this Friday, Nov. 27, 2009 file photo, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, right, looks on as Mikhail Prokhorov signs an agreement, during a Franco-Russian meeting in Rambouillet, France. AP PhotoRussian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov’s decision to stand against Vladimir Putin in presidential elections bring about confusion as a debate started on whether it is a genuine challenge or a Kremlin plan to weaken the protests.
Prokhorov, one of Russia’s richest tycoons and the owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, said Dec. 12 he will run against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the March presidential election.
Prokhorov, whose wealth Forbes magazine has estimated at $18 billion, has been cautious not to cross Putin’s path in the past. Putin’s authority has been dented by his party’s poor showing in Russia’s Dec. 4 parliamentary election and allegations of widespread fraud during the balloting. “The society is waking up,” Prokhorov said at the news conference in Moscow to announce his candidacy. “Those authorities who will fail to establish a dialogue with the society will have to go.”
However, several newspapers cast suspicion on his announcement, noting that Prokhorov maintains good ties with the elite and saying the Kremlin could want his candidacy to harmlessly soak up any protest votes against Putin. The Vedomosti daily quoted a Kremlin source as saying that Prokhorov’s candidacy was not unexpected for Putin as the tycoon had kept contact with the Russian strongman and his inner circle. The source described Prokhorov’s move as a “tactical decision” aimed at reducing tensions in society after the protests of the last week accusing the authorities of rigging this month’s parliamentary elections.
“The authorities are trying to weaken the protest mood in society, experts believe,” the newspaper added.
A Russian oligarch has fired the senior management at a leading publisher after its weekly news magazine published expletive-ridden materials insulting Vladimir Putin, reports said yesterday.
Alisher Usmanov, the owner of the Kommersant publishing house, told the online newspaper Gazeta.ru that the pictures with anti-Putin slogans published in the Kommersant Vlast weekly magazine “bordered on petty hooliganism.”
Kommersant, one of Russia’s most respected publishers, publishes the liberally-inclined daily newspaper of the same name, the weekly magazine Kommersant Vlast and also owns the popular Kommersant-FM radio.
Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.