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Prokhorov Gathers Breath to Cut Kremlin Ties — Analysts
Alexey Eremenko - RIA Novosti - 4.24.12 - JRL 2012-75

MOSCOW, April 24 (RIA Novosti, Alexey Eremenko) - Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has been conspicuously absent from Russian politics - after an impressive debut at the presidential vote in March - because he is preparing to end his dependence on the Kremlin, pundits said.

Mikhail Prokhorov file photo
file photo
Prokhorov pledged to establish a new political party after the March 4 elections won by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, but no major developments have been reported on that front since.

"Creating a high-quality network structure takes a lot of routine work," he said on his blog on late Monday in response to critics accusing him recently of stalling the party creation.

"I'm not going to hurry," Prokhorov said, adding that he retains broad public support. Some of his followers, however, were less enthusiastic.

"His supporters are nonplussed," said Ivan Fedorenko, who headed Prokhorov's public office in Leningrad region during the elections. "The party building hasn't even started yet."

Prokhorov supporters on the ground were told party inception would not happen until Putin is inaugurated and a new government is created in May, Fedorenko told RIA Novosti.

Sole New Face

Prokhorov, 46, never showed any interest in politics until 2011, when he headed the Right Cause, a flagging liberal party with Kremlin connections. He did not last at the helm long enough to lead it at the parliamentary elections in December, being ousted by the party bureaucracy in a coup that Prokhorov's called the Kremlin's revenge for his independent stance.

He then took on Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the March presidential elections, coming a solid third with just under 8 percent of the vote nationwide and 20 percent in Moscow.

Many critics and analysts said Prokhorov was tacitly endorsed by the ruling establishment, an allegation he vehemently denied.

But he still enjoyed the media spotlight thanks to being the sole prominent newcomer to run in the elections after a decade dominated by old political hands. However, Prokhorov virtually disappeared from the airwaves after the March vote.

Prokhorov's approval rating stood at 4 percent as of mid-April, compared to 53 percent for Putin, according to a poll by state-run VTsIOM, which had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

Stupefying Time-Out

"Prokhorov is taking a time out to smooth the impression" he left during his political debut, Alexei Mukhin of the Center for Political Information think-tank said on Monday. "The pro-Kremlin tag stuck hard to him, and would leave a mark even if he scrapes it away."

Prokhorov expected a reward from the Kremlin for playing a "pocket liberal," but the authorities chose to discard him in a show of ill-calculated ungratefulness, said independent political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky.

"He's stupefied now," Belkovsky said.

But Prokhorov, whose wealth was estimated by Forbes in March at $13 billion, a fortune made mostly in the precious metals industry, has to continue in politics without Kremlin support now or lose face completely, analysts said.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Experts divided on why Prokhorov has been slow to create a new party. Belkovsky said he was reluctant to launch an independent political career, but Mukhin put it down to Prokhorov's attempts to disassociate himself from his Kremlin ties and uneven performance at the past elections, as well as to think over an effective new strategy.

"He won't be roaming about in public squares," the analyst said. Prokhorov attended some of the recent anti-Putin rallies, but made no attempt to spearhead the protest movement.

Prokhorov will have to go beyond a "niche" liberal party, courting traditional pro-Kremlin constituencies in order to carve a political future for himself, analysts said.

He might have to tap into both the conservative constituency that is Putin's traditional power base and the leftist voters, Belkovsky said. However, the advice did not match Prokhorov's earlier statements and presidential campaign platform, where he advocated free market and capitalist values.

Brace for the Fall

Experts and supporters agreed the landmark moment for Prokhorov will be the regional elections this fall.

Prokhorov's supporter Fedorenko, a sociologist at his day job, said the prospective party is expected to go through the bureaucratic motions during the summer to make it in time for the fall round of elections.

But Belkovsky said time was running out. The authorities and the opposition fought pitched battles at mayoral elections in Yaroslavl, Togliatti and Astrakhan in recent months, and more are to follow at mayoral votes in Siberian regional capitals Omsk and Krasnoyarsk in June.

"The elections are here, they are tomorrow already," he said. "If Prokhorov does not get involved with them, someone else will occupy his place [in Russian politics]."

Keywords: Russia, Government, Politics, Elections - Russian News - Russia

 

MOSCOW, April 24 (RIA Novosti, Alexey Eremenko) - Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has been conspicuously absent from Russian politics - after an impressive debut at the presidential vote in March - because he is preparing to end his dependence on the Kremlin, pundits said.

Mikhail Prokhorov file photo
file phot
Prokhorov pledged to establish a new political party after the March 4 elections won by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, but no major developments have been reported on that front since.

"Creating a high-quality network structure takes a lot of routine work," he said on his blog on late Monday in response to critics accusing him recently of stalling the party creation.

"I'm not going to hurry," Prokhorov said, adding that he retains broad public support. Some of his followers, however, were less enthusiastic.

"His supporters are nonplussed," said Ivan Fedorenko, who headed Prokhorov's public office in Leningrad region during the elections. "The party building hasn't even started yet."

Prokhorov supporters on the ground were told party inception would not happen until Putin is inaugurated and a new government is created in May, Fedorenko told RIA Novosti.

Sole New Face

Prokhorov, 46, never showed any interest in politics until 2011, when he headed the Right Cause, a flagging liberal party with Kremlin connections. He did not last at the helm long enough to lead it at the parliamentary elections in December, being ousted by the party bureaucracy in a coup that Prokhorov's called the Kremlin's revenge for his independent stance.

He then took on Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the March presidential elections, coming a solid third with just under 8 percent of the vote nationwide and 20 percent in Moscow.

Many critics and analysts said Prokhorov was tacitly endorsed by the ruling establishment, an allegation he vehemently denied.

But he still enjoyed the media spotlight thanks to being the sole prominent newcomer to run in the elections after a decade dominated by old political hands. However, Prokhorov virtually disappeared from the airwaves after the March vote.

Prokhorov's approval rating stood at 4 percent as of mid-April, compared to 53 percent for Putin, according to a poll by state-run VTsIOM, which had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

Stupefying Time-Out

"Prokhorov is taking a time out to smooth the impression" he left during his political debut, Alexei Mukhin of the Center for Political Information think-tank said on Monday. "The pro-Kremlin tag stuck hard to him, and would leave a mark even if he scrapes it away."

Prokhorov expected a reward from the Kremlin for playing a "pocket liberal," but the authorities chose to discard him in a show of ill-calculated ungratefulness, said independent political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky.

"He's stupefied now," Belkovsky said.

But Prokhorov, whose wealth was estimated by Forbes in March at $13 billion, a fortune made mostly in the precious metals industry, has to continue in politics without Kremlin support now or lose face completely, analysts said.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Experts divided on why Prokhorov has been slow to create a new party. Belkovsky said he was reluctant to launch an independent political career, but Mukhin put it down to Prokhorov's attempts to disassociate himself from his Kremlin ties and uneven performance at the past elections, as well as to think over an effective new strategy.

"He won't be roaming about in public squares," the analyst said. Prokhorov attended some of the recent anti-Putin rallies, but made no attempt to spearhead the protest movement.

Prokhorov will have to go beyond a "niche" liberal party, courting traditional pro-Kremlin constituencies in order to carve a political future for himself, analysts said.

He might have to tap into both the conservative constituency that is Putin's traditional power base and the leftist voters, Belkovsky said. However, the advice did not match Prokhorov's earlier statements and presidential campaign platform, where he advocated free market and capitalist values.

Brace for the Fall

Experts and supporters agreed the landmark moment for Prokhorov will be the regional elections this fall.

Prokhorov's supporter Fedorenko, a sociologist at his day job, said the prospective party is expected to go through the bureaucratic motions during the summer to make it in time for the fall round of elections.

But Belkovsky said time was running out. The authorities and the opposition fought pitched battles at mayoral elections in Yaroslavl, Togliatti and Astrakhan in recent months, and more are to follow at mayoral votes in Siberian regional capitals Omsk and Krasnoyarsk in June.

"The elections are here, they are tomorrow already," he said. "If Prokhorov does not get involved with them, someone else will occupy his place [in Russian politics]."


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