Mikhail Prokhorov has been replaced at the helm of the rightist pro-business Civil Platform party by his sister, Irina Prokhorova. The decision, at a closed-door meeting, scotches speculation that freed ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky could get the job.
Irina Prokhorova, appointed under the party’s leadership rotation
program, announced that first on the Civil Platform’s agenda
under her leadership would be providing a list of candidates for
the Moscow City Council election, scheduled for September 2014.
Mikhail Prokhorov has characterized his sister as “an outstanding leader, who has credibility among different segments of Russian society.”
“Irina is one of the cultural leaders of the Russian capital, an independent politician with a clear vision of ways to develop social and human capital,” the businessman wrote on his LiveJournal page.
According to Prokhorov, Russia is facing rapid radicalization as the government and opposition are fighting each other with same outdated, Soviet-era means.
In those conditions, the businessman views his sister as “an ideal candidate for the challenging and responsible role” of heading the Civil Platform, which he sees as a “third force,” consolidating reasonable and creative people within the country and preventing further division in the society.
Irina Prokhorova is well known for her cultural and charity activities. She is the editor-in-chief of the Novoye Literaturnoye Obozrenie literature magazine and the head of the Mikhail Prokhorov charity foundation.
The 57-year-old hit the spotlight during the 2012 presidential race when she was her brother’s authorized representative, helping him finish third with 7.98 per cent of the vote.
Mikhail Prokhorov stressed that the change at the top doesn’t mean that he’ll be quitting the party, which he co-founded in June 2012.
It was announced that the billionaire will from now on be in charge of the Civil Platform’s Federal Political Committee.
The leadership rotation program was launched as the party is seeks the most effective management model, he said. The businessman has said Civil Platform wants to avoid an autocratic leadership structure.
The party stands for the reduction of presidential terms to four years, direct election of governors, and lowering the parliament electoral threshold to 3 percent.
Among its political demands are an independent judicial system, abandonment of arrest as a preventive measure against those who committed economic crimes, as well as signing an integration agreement with the European Union.
The ruling United Russia party has commented on the reshuffle in the Civil Platform, saying that “the change of leadership went on quietly, in the family circle.”
“Perhaps, that’s what democracy looks like from Mikhail Prokhorov’s perspective,” Sergey Neverov, one of the party’s leaders, told the Itar-Tass news agency.
Political analyst Mikhail Kalachev believes that Prokhorov was forced to step down as party leader because his career hasn’t fulfilled his and his followers’ expectations.
“He’s a complete failure as a system politician,” he told Izvestia newspaper, adding that the Civil Platform party “doesn’t channel protest voices anymore.”
Mikhail Prokhorov holds an estimated fortune of around $13 billion, making him the seventh-richest person in Russia and 58th richest in the world, according to Forbes.
Before turning to politics in 2011, Prokhorov headed Norilsk Nickel, the palladium and nickel mining and smelting company; Russia's largest gold producer, Polyus Gold; and private investment fund Onexim Group.
He’s mainly famous in the West for being the owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and his involvement in the 2007 Courchevel Christmas party scandal – when he was briefly arrested by French police on suspicion of arranging prostitutes for his guests. He was later cleared of all charges.