Nets Owner to Run Against Putin
But Mikhail Prokhorov says he won't attack him too vociferously
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2011 9:35 AM CST
New Jersey Nets new owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov addresses a press conference on May 19, 2010 in New York.   (Getty Images/AFP)
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(Newser) – Eccentric Russian billionaire and New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has his eye on a new prize: He wants to be president of Russia, he announced today. "This is the most important decision of my life," he said at a news conference, according to Bloomberg. Prokorov promised to run a "grassroots" campaign, but at the same time said he opposed "revolution" and "populism" and would spend only 10% of his time attacking his opponent, Vladimir Putin.

Prokorov noted that he isn't worried about ending up like Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the oil tycoon who funded Putin's opponents until he was thrown in prison on charges including tax evasion, fraud, and embezzlement in 2003. But Prokorov's entry into the race may not be a true challenge; some observers suspect he's actually working with Putin, in a bid to make the vote seem legitimate by appearing as a competitor. "A billionaire would never have taken such a risk if he hadn't had an agreement with Putin," one former deputy prime minister opined.