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Right Cause Wants to Bring Back Prokhorov

Just days after ousting billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, members of the Right Cause party are apparently considering bringing him back as chairman because their prospects for the State Duma elections are bleak.

Negotiations are ongoing with Prokhorov to put him on a short list for a party convention Tuesday, RIA-Novosti reported Monday, quoting a statement released by Right Cause.

Party spokesman Yaroslav Volpin said Prokhorov had the same chances as the other candidates to be elected chairman. "There will be consultations with all of them," he told Interfax.

Volpin said Prokhorov had resigned as chairman but was still a party member.

But a spokesman for Prokhorov denied that the businessman remained a party member, saying he had resigned from Right Cause last Thursday. "Maybe his declaration has not yet been accepted by the [party's] executive committee," the spokesman told Interfax.

He said he knew of no invitation for Prokhorov to attend Tuesday's convention.

Reached by telephone, party spokesman Yaroslav Volpin said Prokhorov might show up. "Let's wait and see," he said.

Repeated calls to Alexei Urazov, Prokhorov's spokesman for political issues, went unanswered Monday.

Prokhorov left Right Cause after his opponents seized power in the party at a convention last week. In a dramatic speech, he accused Vladislav Surkov, the powerful first deputy head of the presidential administration, of being "puppet master" to the country's politics and vowed to fight for his ouster.

Prokhorov has since backtracked, saying he was not attacking the Kremlin but a conservative faction within it. His comments suggested that a power struggle was going on behind the scenes.

Prokhorov took the helm of Right Cause in late June, greatly boosting the hitherto insignificant party and investing some 800 million rubles ($25 million) into advertising and public relations.

Speculation has swirled that Prokhorov was installed by the Kremlin to push the liberal, pro-business party into the next Duma and create a re-election platform for President Dmitry Medvedev.

Observers said that without Prokhorov, the party had lost any hope of passing the 7 percent threshold in the Dec. 4 elections. They said Prokhorov was naive and had failed to install loyal supporters in key party posts.

Right Cause co-founder Leonid Gozman said Monday that he was leaving the party. "I herewith declare that from today on I have nothing to do with the organization that calls itself Right Cause," he wrote in his blog.

The remaining party leadership also seemed at odds.

Leading party functionary Boris Nadezhdin said an executive committee session had failed to agree on the first three names on the party's election list.

The plan had been to put interim party leader Andrei Dunayev, Andrei Bogdanov and himself on the list.

"I said I wouldn't be on a troika together with Bogdanov. On this we parted. Everything will be decided at Tuesday's convention," he said, Interfax reported.

Bogdanov, leader of the coup that ousted Prokhorov, appeared from obscurity as a candidate in the last presidential election in 2008. The fact that he managed to collect 2 million signatures only to garner fewer votes in the election made him widely seen as a Kremlin stooge.

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