Mikhail Prokhorov, recently ousted from the leadership of the right-wing party Right Cause, has said he will run for the Russian presidency in March.
“I have made a decision. I am taking part in the presidential elections,” Prokhorov told a news conference in Moscow on Monday.
When reporters asked the businessman if he had discussed his decision with the Presidential administration, Prokhorov said he had not. He also said he had met with neither President Dmitry Medvedev nor Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to discuss the move.
Despite this, Prokhorov said he was confident the authorities would apply pressure to him or his business. . “We have a proverb in Russia that no one is guaranteed safe from misery or prison, but I am not afraid. I am not doing anything illegal, I am marching with an open visor and I am not afraid,” Prokhorov said.
Soon after the press conference at which Prokhorov announced his intention to run, Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said the Prime Minister had been informed of the news. Peskov added that “the situation was not surprising” and that “any person who has the constitutional and legal right to run for the presidency, has this right.”
Prokhorov, a billionaire who once topped the Russian Forbes list, entered politics only recently. In June this year, he joined Right Cause, was elected its leader and started to prepare for the parliamentary campaign. In its early stages, Prokhorov claimed he could replace Vladimir Putin as Russia’s Prime Minister if the party succeeded in polls and at some point even hinted that he could become President.
However, party veterans got extremely upset by the businessman’s goals and in early September a Right Cause congress ousted Prokhorov and his key allies from the party.
The businessman said his campaign staff would finish the process of officially filing the application on Wednesday or Thursday. He added that he saw no reason to refuse him registration as a candidate. Prokhorov said he had already decided who would head the campaign team, but gave no further details.
The Russian election commission has so far registered six candidates for the March 4 presidential poll. These include Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is the leader of the parliamentary majority party United Russia and has already served two presidential terms; Sergey Mironov, a former upper house speaker and the leader of the Fair Russia party; the leader of the liberal Yabloko party, Grigoriy Yavlinsky; and three independent candidates, including the leader of the fringe opposition movement, Eduard Limonov.