Second-richest man in Russia may head pro-Medvedev party

Reuters, MOSCOW

Tue, May 17, 2011 - Page 6

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is mulling taking the leadership of a political party that has called for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to run for a second term, a Russian newspaper said yesterday.

Prokhorov, ranked by Finans magazine as Russia’s second-richest man with a fortune of US$22.7 billion, told colleagues in a letter leaked to the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda he was ready to lead the Right Cause party.

“If those of us who have the means and the desire to live in Russia do not try to change anything then nothing will change,” it quoted Prokhorov as saying in the letter.

It also quoted Prokhorov as saying his sister, one of his closest advisers, had suggested he enter politics.

A source close to Prokhorov’s ONEXIM investment holding confirmed the existence of the letter but declined further comment. Prokhorov could not immediately be reached.

Asked if Prokhorov would lead Right Cause, Leonid Gozman, the party co-chairman, said: “I do not exclude it but there are other variants too.”

“Our aim is to remove United Russia’s monopoly of power,” Gozman said by telephone.

If the report is confirmed, Prokhorov would be the most influential Russian businessman to openly to support a party that has called for Medvedev to run for a second term.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Medvedev have avoided saying which of them will stand in the presidential vote, although Putin has created a new movement to broaden the base of the ruling party before the December parliamentary election.

Right Cause, which called in November last year for Medvedev to run for a second term in next March’s presidential election, has no seats in parliament. Its slogan is: “Freedom, Property, Order.”

Prokhorov made most of his fortune by selling his one-quarter stake in mining firm Norilsk Nickel just before the 2008 crisis.