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Prokhorov Will Not Reveal Donors

Mikhail Prokhorov Andrei Makhonin

Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov's new Civil Platform Party, which aims to bring grassroots activists into power, will not reveal its sponsors, the former presidential candidate said Thursday.

Prokhorov will contribute no more than 10 percent of the party's budget, with the rest coming from donors, the businessman-turned-politician told a small group of journalists in his cavernous downtown office.

Although expenditures will be fully transparent, he said, the party will not require donors to identify themselves.

"It would be unethical for me to name names of financial backers, as Alexei Navalny did recently," he said in response to a question from The Moscow Times. Navalny, a central opposition leader and anti-corruption crusader, recently published the names of some of the largest backers of his anti-corruption fund.

One of Navalny's high-profile supporters, Vladimir Ashurkov, recently lost his job as a top manager at Alfa Bank because of his political activities. Supporters should be able to conceal their identities to prevent repercussions, Prokhorov said.

The 500-member Civil Platform Party, whose formation was announced Monday, will mostly comprise lawyers versed in election law and nominated by regional supporters, Prokhorov said.

The 47-year-old investment tycoon and owner of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team reiterated that his party will support alternative candidates in municipal and gubernatorial elections, but does not have an ideological agenda.

It remains to be seen who will rally behind what he called a radically new kind of party, or which candidates will run under its banner. Prokhorov said local activists would decide how candidates are determined. He expressed support for local primaries.

The party's opaque fundraising structure could strengthen suspicions of Kremlin involvement. Prokhorov, who attended several mass opposition rallies but has recently distanced himself from opposition leaders, called the ilk of Navalny, Sergei Udaltsov and Ilya Yashin "radicals" on Thursday.

"I'm not an opposition force, I'm an alternative," Prokhorov said, reiterating a willingness to work with the authorities to boost political and economic competition and fight corruption.

Prokhorov, however, condemned what he called the Kremlin's "quasi-reforms," such as drastically lowering the number of members required to register a party. That reform has been criticized for its potential to fragment the opposition.

Prokhorov also denounced a potential law that would raise fines for illegal protests. But, he said, ways around that law could be found, such as 100,000-person "weddings."

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