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Prokhorov's Party Says Russia Is a 'Parody' of Soviet Union

Russia is becoming a "farce and parody of the Soviet Union," stifled by bureaucracy, said the political party headed by billionaire New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

Authoritarian rule has returned to Russia, Prokhorov's Pravoye Delo, or Right Cause, party said in a manifesto entitled "We Ourselves Are Power," published on its website late Aug. 26.

"We are against the total degradation threatening to destroy the country," Right Cause said. The pro-business party said Europe should extend "from Lisbon to Vladivostok," with Russian integration into the European economy and currency to compete with the U.S. and China.

Prokhorov, 46, was elected chairman of Right Cause on June 25, saying he may seek to become prime minister. Premier Vladimir Putin, 58, and his successor President Dmitry Medvedev, 45, have said they'll decide together which of them will run for president in March.

Prokhorov is spending 2.7 billion rubles ($94 million) of his personal wealth on the campaign for the December parliamentary elections, he said today after meeting Medvedev in the southern resort of Sochi with other party leaders.

'Kill Us All'

The manifesto echoes criticism made by Mikhail Gorbachev, who presided over the end of the Soviet Union 20 years ago. Gorbachev said Aug. 17 that Russia is moving backward under its current leaders and that Putin shouldn't run again.

"The bet made by government higher-ups, who are striving for personal gain, on state monopolies with all the rest of the economy handed over to the less privileged bureaucrats is becoming a mass return to the Soviet past," Right Cause said. "It will kill us all."

Medvedev should have spoken out about policies that reduced democracy, such as the elimination of direct elections for regional governors and single-seat districts for the lower house of parliament, Gorbachev also said in July. Both changes were implemented during Putin's presidency.

Prokhorov's party proposed cutting the number government bureaucrats by half, reinstating mayoral elections and abolishing the post of presidential envoy in all of Russia's regions except the North Caucasus.

The majority party should also limit its number of seats in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, for at least two terms to 226 of the 450 seats, Right Cause said in the document. Putin's United Russia now holds 315 Duma seats.

Entering Parliament

Gorbachev welcomed Prokhorov's efforts to revitalize Right Cause, which is seeking to win more than the 7 percent of votes needed to gain seats in parliament. He dismissed Prokhorov's interest in becoming prime minister as too ambitious.

Putin and Medvedev will probably wait until December to reveal who will run for president, two people familiar with the matter said this month. Putin held the post from 2000 to 2008, serving a maximum two consecutive terms allowed by the constitution. The election must be called 90 days before the planned March 4 vote.

Delaying the announcement until December will erode Medvedev's chances, Igor Yurgens, an adviser to the president, said in an Aug. 16 interview. Putin formed a coalition, the All- Russia People's Front, in May to rally support for United Russia.

State Duma elections will be held Dec. 4, according to an order signed by Medvedev today in Sochi.

Article ©2011 BLOOMBERG L.P. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED; article alao appeared at www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-29/prokhorov-s-party-says-russia-is-a-parody-of-soviet-union-1-.html

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