Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

Prokhorov's Platform Courts Protesters

Mikhail Prokhorov holding his portrait at a meeting with supporters on the campaign trail in Kazan on Saturday. Nikolay Alexandrov

Billionaire and presidential hopeful Mikhail Prokhorov — who has presented himself as the candidate for the urban middle class — has unveiled a 15-page presidential platform that closely reflects the demands made by protesters at two massive opposition rallies last month.

Friday's platform, which arrives a month after the greenhorn politician and former metals magnate announced his candidacy, could lure voters away from other liberal candidates, but it is unlikely to dispel suspicions about the independence of the Kremlin-linked businessman, whom the latest polls show lagging far behind the favorite, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Prokhorov's manifesto, titled "Present and Future," begins by saying, "The well-being of the individual has never been the Russian government's priority," and consists of a series of comparisons between Prokhorov's policies and those he attributes to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

As part of his platform, Prokhorov calls for new State Duma elections, a return to four-year presidential terms, a professional army by 2015, a visa-free regime for OSCE citizens, the privatization of state-owned companies and a 30 percent cut in the number of state employees by 2014.

Prokhorov also promises to free all economic "criminals" from prison, a nod to billionaire and former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev, who are considered political prisoners by opposition-minded voters.

Prokhorov and Yabloko founder Grigory Yavlinsky are the only presidential candidates to fully embrace the December protests, which arose amid allegations of widespread fraud during Dec. 4 State Duma elections. Prokhorov appeared at the most recent Dec. 25 rally in Moscow, which drew tens of thousands to Prospekt Akademika Sakharova.

Communist leader and presidential candidate Gennady Zyuganov has backed many of the protesters' demands, and his scores of his supporters rallied on Manezh Square on Saturday to protest the elections and commemorate the 88th anniversary of Vladimir Lenin's death.

A Jan. 14 to 15 survey released by the state-run VTsIOM pollster showed Prokhorov and other challengers lagging far behind Putin in the race for the Kremlin.

Forty-five percent of respondents said they would vote for Putin on March 4, compared to 11 percent for Zyuganov and 10 percent for Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party. Prokhorov and A Just Russia founder Sergei Mironov scored just 3 percent, and Yavlinsky won the support of only 1 percent of respondents.

Prokhorov could get 15 percent of the vote if he can successfully appeal to traditional voters disillusioned by Yavlinsky, as well as voters looking for a miracle, said Alexei Makarkin, an analyst with the Center for Political Technologies, RBC reported Friday. (RBC is controlled by Prokhorov.)

The Central Elections Commission has refused to register three presidential hopefuls, including Svetlana Peunova, whom the committee said failed to submit the necessary paperwork, including the required 2 million signatures. Peunova, who leads the unregistered Will (Volya) party, is also the producer of a series of documentary films in which she claims that the Earth will be overrun by alien reptiles later this year.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more