Oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, who has amassed a fortune worth an estimated GBP 8 billion fortune, has this time declared himself as a politician. At a congress of his Civic Platform party in the last weekend of October 2012, the oligarch said that he would put his fortune in a trust fund and entrust his investment vehicle Onexim Group to oversee his assets in a number of sectors, including mining, financial services and the media. It remains unclear when this will happen though.
This is not the first time that Prokhorov has made forays in politics. He first campaigned for some kind of political role in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in 2011, with the apparent backing of the Kremlin and favourable TV coverage, only for the publicity and support to evaporate when he mistakenly believed that he could outline the problems facing the country, including corruption and political inertia and citing by contrast the success of much maligned neighbour Georgia.
As a result he was cut back to size. He was then allowed to run in the 2012 presidential elections, provided that he did not criticise the current leadership, a promise that he kept. Despite the significant amount of funds spent on his campaign, he came a distant third, attracting 8 per cent of the vote.
If Prokhorov is going to raise his status nationally, he will have to demonstrate his independence and be overtly critical of the powers that be. It will be interesting to see if he will be ready to make this move, as this will indicate whether he is still a pawn of the Kremlin – part of some game to show the west that Russia has an independent opposition -or is ready to break out on his own, regardless of the consequences.