Billionaire Prokhorov calls own party ‘senseless’ and quits

Mikhail Prokhorov (RIA Novosti/Aleksey Nikolskyi)
The founder of the pro-business party Civil Platform, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, has announced that he is quitting the project and suggested that his former comrades decide whether to rename or liquidate it.

The announcement was made at the Friday session of the Civil Platform’s consultative body – the Federal Civil Committee – that was called in connection with the growing schism in the party. The latter happened after many Civil Platform activists, including senior party officials, took part in the so-called “Anti-Maidan March” in Moscow – an event held in late February in which over 40,000 people expressed their support for Russian authorities and President Vladimir Putin, and protested against any attempts at regime change in the country by means of so-called “color revolutions.”

READ MORE: 40,000 take to Moscow streets in ‘Anti-Maidan’ demo

Immediately after the event, Prokhorov blasted his comrades in a blog post for taking part in the Anti-Maidan rally, without a joint party decision approval of this move. He also initiated an extraordinary session of the Federal Civil Committee to decide on the Civil Platform’s future.

When the committee gathered Friday, Prokhorov said he was quitting all party bodies, and suggested that other leaders of the Civil Platform considered either the liquidation or renaming of the project. He added that such a move would prevent “fraudsters” using the names of prominent members of the party in the forthcoming State Duma elections. “We must not sacrifice our reputation and success in order to support a senseless political project,” Prokhorov’s own news agency RBC quoted the businessman as saying.

Other senior activists agreed to hold a general party convention March 24 and hold a vote on his proposal.

Prokhorov is a wealthy businessman who once topped the Russian Forbes list of billionaires and whose assets include the NBA club Brooklyn Nets. He founded the Civil Platform party in 2011 and remained the main sponsor of the party, which positions itself as pro-business and rightist.

READ MORE: Billionaire Prokhorov’s sister takes his role as leader of pro-business party

However, Prokhorov only remained formal leader of the party until 2013, when he quit his post and put his sister Irina at the helm. Prokhorov said the reason behind the move was an urge to avoid any authoritarian tendencies in the party, but many analysts suspected that the real reason could be in the relatively new Russian law that forbids senior officials and legislators to possess foreign bank accounts and securities. Prokhorov holds a lot of his multi-billion dollar property in foreign assets (that include the Brooklyn Nets NBA club) and once admitted that selling them in a hurry could lead to large losses.

Deputy State Duma speaker Sergey Neverov of the ruling United Russia party said that Friday’s meeting proved that Prokhorov could not abandon an authoritarian style more appropriate for business than politics.

It is all very much like business – those who pay the pipe call the tune. Prokhorov did not like the opinion of other party members and he just ousted them, called the project useless and said that it should be closed,” Neverov said.

And what about those who trusted him, who wanted to take part in elections or already did so?” he added.