Revolution possible if democracy wasn't embraced, Russian presidential candidate says
Mikhail Prokhorov is challenging current Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin for the presidency in March.
(Page 3 of 3)
"My goal is to win, but I have a long-term strategy and a short-term strategy," he said.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
"For the short-term strategy, I want to address all my ideas to the audience, and I want to receive maximum support from this presidential election. It will be a great platform to make a political party."
And while he is challenging Putin, he did not rule out becoming Putin's prime minister -- if the 59-year-old leader shifts course and moves close enough to his vision of the future.
"If we have 80 percent or 90 percent the same programme or we are on the same page, it's possible."
Putin and Medvedev have taken steps to appease protesters and blunt public anger triggered by their announcement in September that they would swap jobs in a deal they said predated Medvedev's ascent to the presidency in 2008.
They have promised to register political parties long barred from ballots and to restore popular elections of regional governors, albeit with candidates ultimately endorsed by the Kremlin. But they have rejected calls for a new parliamentary vote.
Though his popularity may have fallen since the elections, Putin as yet sees no clear rival in the ranks of liberal, communist or nationalist politicians.
Prokhorov said it was unclear whether Putin was capable of defusing growing discontent.
"It depends. He is smart, he is a very good politician, and as far as I know, a politician needs to react to what is going on in the world and what is going on in the country," he said.
"But he is my opponent for the time being, I have another view about what we need for Russia," Prokhorov said. "We will see who's right."
The very idea of Russia's third richest man running for president is a sign the ground is shifting beneath Putin's feet.
Prokhorov and other 'oligarchs' who built flashy fortunes on assets snapped up in Russia's scandal-tainted post-Soviet privatisation drive were all but barred from politics as the ex-KGB officer tightened control after becoming president in 2000.
Khodorkovsky, who broke an unwritten compact with the Kremlin by funding opposition parties, was jailed in 2003 and is due to remain behind bars until late 2016, his Yukos oil empire long ago carved up and sold off into state hands.
Already a billionaire, he sold his stake to Potanin before the 2008 market crash. He kept his hand in an array of investments and was a stranger to politics until his brief stint as Right Cause leader last year.
Prokhorov dismissed the notion that his personal and business history made him vulnerable to control by the Kremlin.
"I have a great biography -- it's very transparent," said Prokhorov.
"I am a fighter and I am ready to fight, for my ideas and for my country," he said.
IN PICTURES: Russia's landmarks