Everybody Thinks The Russian Billionaire Running For President Is A Decoy

Mikhail Prokhorov Russia

Getty / Mike Stobe

This post originally appeared at The Moscow Times.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 favourite, Prime MinisterVladimir 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 per cent 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 CEOMikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev, who are considered political prisoners by opposition-minded voters.

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