Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov announced on Monday he would run for presidency at the upcoming presidential elections next March and create a new political party.
"I made probably the most serious decision in my life. I am running for president,” Prokhorov told a press conference, adding that he would have to collect signatures and register for the elections very soon.
He said that he would unveil his political agenda after he registered as candidate.
Prokhorov also pledged to build a new political party “from scratch.”
He did not rule out the possibility of cooperation with Russia’s former finance minister Alexei Kudrin, who earlier told the Vedomosti daily newspaper that he is in contact with Prokhorov about the possible establishment of a new political party.
The businessman however dismissed the claims that he had discussed his presidential ambitions with the Kremlin.
Asked whether he had met with President Dmitry Medvedev or Putin, Prokhorov said he “had not met either.”
Prokhorov, who has chosen Russia’s middle class as his electoral base, said he would not build his presidential campaign on criticism of Putin.
“Criticism must make up no more than 10 percent…I would like to focus on the things I would do,” he said.
He also said he had at least five or six candidates for the post of Prime Minister, although he refused to disclose any names.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said after Prokhorov’s statement that Putin was aware of the businessman’s ambitions.
“Any person whom the constitution and law allows to run for president has the right to do so. This situation is not surprising,” Peskov said without elaborating on Putin’s reaction about Prokhorov’s statement.
On Thursday Prokhorov said in his blog that he saw no alternative to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as president.
“Whether they [Russian people] like it or not, Putin is so far the only figure who can manage this inefficient state machine,” Prokhorov said in his LiveJournal blog, following the mass protests against the allegedly rigged parliamentary polls that brought Putin’s party, United Russia, to victory.
Prokhorov planned to take part in December’s parliamentary elections as the leader of the Right Cause party, but in mid-September he was dismissed as the party’s leader for allegedly not toeing the Kremlin line. He then accused the first Kremlin deputy chief of staff Vladislav Surkov of being linked to the party’s split and said he would push for Surkov’s dismissal.
“I have found a more sophisticated way [to dismiss Surkov], I think I should just become his boss,” Prokhorov said.
The Right Cause’s acting head Andrei Dunayev said the party would support Prokhorov at the elections if they could be sure of his independence from the Kremlin.
“I would sincerely like to believe that he came to this decision on his own. If we can be sure about this, we will definitely support him,” Dunayev said.
After Prokhorov announced his presidential plans, his name appeared on the Twitter world trends' list.