MOSCOW, March 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russian metals magnate Mikhail Prokhorov will through his Onexim Group finance the Seliger 2010 youth forum, a symbol of the Kremlin's youth policies, a Russian newspaper reported on Monday.
Respected daily Kommersant reported that this is the first time a large business has openly financed the event.
"Probably, Mikhail Prokhorov has received an offer from Kremlin that he could not refuse," opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was quoted as saying by the paper, which also said that both two were close friends.
Mihkail Rogachev, executive director of Onexim Group, said that the group will invest some 45 million rubles ($1.54 million) into the organization of educational programs during the forum, adding that he expects other companies due to participate in the project to finance it.
"But if no one wants to, we will pay for everything," Rogachev continued.
The annual forum has taken place on Seliger Lake since 2005. Last year, when the organizer of the forum became the Federal Youth Affairs Agency Rosmolodezh instead of the pro-Kremlin's Nashi movement, the event has received state status and can expect financing from a state budget. Last year, a total of 200 million rubles ($6.8 million) were spent on the forum, including 75 million rubles ($2.6 million) from the federal budget.
"Prokhorov is far from politics but not far from innovation," Rogachev said.
"Modernization and innovation can not be anything but political projects," Rogachev added, noting that Onexim president Prokhorov is on the modernization commission chaired by President Dmitry Medvedev.
He said Onexim and Rosmolodezh had signed an agreement on "strategic partnership on stimulating, support and youth innovation activity development."
Rogachev added that some 300 young journalists would also participate in the forum and would be "trained to write about innovation."
Kristina Potupchik, a Rosmolodezh representative, and a former Nashi movement representative, said the agreement was in the interest of both Onexim and Rosmolodezh.
"Business is interested in young specialists and young specialists are interested in putting their ideas to work," she said.
Prokhorov, whose business interests range from gold mining to a U.S. basketball club, sold some of his most valuable assets just before the global economic crisis struck and is now willing to invest cash in innovation projects.
Prokhorov is second on the 2010 list of richest Russians by the Forbes' annual list of world's richest people with an estimated wealth of $13.4 billion.