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Sunday, January 20, 2019

In Prokhorov, they trust!


SAURABH KUMAR SHAHI | Moscow, March 7, 2012 20:23
Tags : Moscow elections 2012 | Mikhail Prokhorov | Moscow elections | vote | Putin |
From outside, he is everything an average Moscow protester protest about: rich, flashy, oligarch and apparently close to the Kremlin. But it is in him that they have put their trust forma more liberalized and democratic Russia. He was supposed to do well in this election. Not strictly in numbers as hardly anyone knows him outside metros; but in visibility. When the final results were tabulated, he stood third behind Putin and his Communist contender. But it is being largely held that while Putin won Russia, he won the heart. Welcome to the world of Mikhail Prokhorov.
This 46 years old billionaire, who owns American basketball team the New Jersey Nets, is said to have made his fortune largely from Nickel and Gold. In this election, he styled himself as a “White Knight” so to say and appealed to mostly middle-class and upper-middle class voters who are either young office-goers or are businessmen. Also, unlike other opposition candidates, he was not shy from appearing in the protest rallies following the Duma elections in December. His vote plank of ‘corruption free’ and ‘politically liberal’ Russia appeals to the urban population that faces corruption on almost daily basis. 
“Prokhorov was supported by the people representing the middle class. They are well-to-do people of liberal views. There are many such people in large cities of the country. Plus, Prokhorov is a new face in Russian politics. He was introduced as a person who achieved great success in business and who would be capable of ruling the country. He was bound to strike a chord,” explains Oleg Artyukov, a political observer based with Pravda. 
Prokhorov maintains that his primary target is to enhance competence and trim down waste in the economy by bringing in real competition. He has promised to counter monopolies and oligarchs, build up controls on unlawful immigration and boost state outlay towards scientific research. He moreover promised privatizing state corporations and helping private entrepreneurs to boost Russia’s infrastructure. Independent analysts have all the praises for him but are deeply cynical about how will he achieve his goals if and when he wins.
But there is another aspect to his story as well. In spite of gaining huge amount of votes in Moscow, a section of liberal, anti-Putin voters have been suspicious of him. It is being quietly, and at times openly, said that he is possibly a Kremlin stalking horse designed to distract protesters' attention. After all, this segment that has voted for him is basically a supporter of another liberal outfit Yabloko, whose leader Grigory Yavlinsky’s candidature was struck down by The Central Elections Commission claiming many of the signatures that an independent outfit with no representation in Duma has to collect were forged.Yavlinsky on his part suggested that the move was politically motivated, the Supreme Court dismissed Yavlinsky's appeal fair and square. The second natural choice of Yabloko’s voters became Prokhorov. 
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017