Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov declared on Wednesday that he is not someone's project as many say.
"Everyone says I'm someone's project. Someone thinks I'm [Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin's project, someone - [President Dmitry] Medvedev's, some sincerely believe that I am a project of [Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav] Surkov," Prokhorov said in a video to Russians, which he posted in his blog.
“My friends, it’s not true. I would be proud to be a project of Bolotnaya Square, a project of Sakharov Avenue, a project of the Russian people, whose personal freedom is more important than their personal prosperity,” Prokhorov said. “I would be honored to be a project of you all, of the new Russia,” he added.
Tens of thousands of protesters rallied on Moscow’s Sakharov Avenue on Saturday to demand new parliamentary elections after claims that the December 4 vote was slanted in favor of the ruling United Russia party. This rally follows protests at Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square two weeks ago.
According to Prokhorov, he is often asked why he who has everything wants to run in the Russian presidential elections, and if he really believes that anyone in this country would vote for a billionaire. “It’s very simple. I, in contrast to the officials, am going [to take part in presidential elections] because I do not need to steal,” Prokhorov said. He also said that he would run in the presidential elections to lead the country on its historical path, to stop corruption and to help innocent prisoners. “I am not a crook or a thief, I’m a manager,” Prokhorov added.
“I take it as a personal tragedy that some of our citizens will be greeting the New Year in prison. I’m talking about Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Platon Lebedev, Sergei Udaltsov and many other innocent prisoners. I am especially sad that I cannot help them now. But when the time comes, I will help,” Prokhorov said.
The tycoon announced he would run for president in early December. This decision pits Prokhorov against Russia’s powerful Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, generally considered a shoo-in for another presidential term. Prokhorov must now collect two million signatures to get on the ballot.
The former head of the now-defunct Yukos oil company, Khodorkovsky, and his business partner, Platon Lebedev, were convicted in a second trial in December last year. The trial was widely condemned abroad as unfair. The two were first arrested in 2003 and sentenced in 2005 for fraud and tax evasion.
Russia's Left Front movement leader Sergei Udaltsov was arrested on December 4 over the fact that he had not served the full term of his previous administrative arrest and escaped from a hospital.