Prokhorov’s presidential agenda: ‘Big Europe’, early Duma poll

Mikhail Prokhorov (RIA Novosti / Vladimir Fedorenko)
Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has said that if he wins the March 2012 presidential poll, he will call a new parliamentary vote, create ‘Big Europe’ with a common currency based on the euro and ruble, and leave the post in five years.

In his presidential program – which has been published on his official website – the Russian tycoon promises major political and economic reforms.

The entire campaign program, entitled “The present and the future”, is based on the comparison between “how it was” under Vladimir Putin’s rule, and how things would change if Prokhorov makes it to the Kremlin.

Prokhorov, who announced his presidential ambitions earlier in December, said he would stay in office for only five years out of six allowed by the law. He also promised to amend the Constitution, reducing the presidential term from the current six to five years, and to ban any person from occupying the country’s top job for more than two terms in total, not just consecutively, as is now the case.

The businessman-turned-politician vowed to ensure fair elections, reduce the required threshold for parties to win seats in the State Duma to 3 per cent, and bring back direct voting for city mayors and regional governors. In addition, Prokhorov said that in order to get registered, new political parties would simply have to file official notifications. The tycoon said he would introduce tougher criminal responsibility for election violations.

Prokhorov’s credo – which echoes a famous quote by French philosopher Jacques Maritain – reads “it is not a man who is made for power, but power [exists] for a man.” He says he would declare human rights, dignity and freedom as Russia’s key valued and the protection of private property the top priority for the state.

The freedom of information would be provided by imposing a ban on the state ownership of mass media outlets and on the privatization of nationwide TV channels.

Democratic and liberal values, Prokhorov said, would serve as a guarantee for citizens against the “outrage” of bureaucrats and the top brass.

The tycoon also promised investments into Russian culture and fundamental science, amnesty for people convicted of financial crimes, countering monopolies and price-fixing arrangements, reducing taxes for business and carrying out land reforms.

If Prokhorov wins the presidential poll, he said, he will transfer the Russian “Silicon Valley” – the Skolkovo innovation hub outside Moscow – to the country’s westernmost territory, the exclave of Kaliningrad.

Fighting corruption and bureaucracy are also on Prokhorov’s presidential agenda. By 2014, he plans to reduce the number of public servants by 30 per cent and retrain former officials for work in real economy sectors. His priority would be fighting corruption among law enforcement agency employees and the courts.

Considering regional policy, the billionaire suggests eliminating Russia’s federal districts and significantly enlarging the existing regions. Prokhorov would reduce federal financing of the North Caucasus and, at the same time, introduce an economic zone free of federal taxes on the territory.

As for defense, Prokhorov sees potential regional conflicts as the main danger for Russia’s security. Prokhorov plans to create a mobile, professional, and modern high-tech army. At the same time, though, defense spending would not be higher than that of healthcare system.

“Pan-European integration for the sake of creation of united ‘Big Europe’ and allied relations with democratic sates” would shape Prokhorov’s foreign policy. Russia’s economic development, according to the tycoon, should be a priority in picking foreign political partners.

Self-nominated candidate Mikhail Prokhorov, 46, has already submitted the necessary documents for registration at the Central Election Commission. Now he has until January 18 to collect the required 2 million signatures from supporters to make it on to the ballot.

Earlier, Prokhorov said that in case of successful performance at the March 4 poll, he could also create a new party.

“If you’ve got trust, you have the right to lead other people,” he said in an interview to Russia-24 news channel. He added that if he actually gets down to this he will “start from scratch.”

Among other politicians who are planning to compete for the presidential seat are Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, Fair Russia leader Sergey Mironov, Yabloko co-founder Grigory Yavlinsky and the head of Liberal-Democratic party Vladimir Zhirinovsky.