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Monday, May 16, 2011
Prokhorov plans to get into politics

By Jared Zwerling

If $22.7 billion Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov became a politician in the U.S., he'd be the country's richest one after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose estimated worth is $18.1 billion.

Well, it turns out Prokhorov is actually running for a seat -- but back in his native Russia (BBC). He wants to lead the Pravoye Dyelo party, or Right Cause, which strongly supports Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, at a time when there's mounting speculation that Vladimir Putin wants a return to the presidency. Right Cause hopes to win legislature seats in parliamentary elections in December.

However, Prokhorov admitted in televised remarks that it was "an uneasy and somewhat surprising decision." According to the Associated Press, "the establishing of the [political] party is widely seen by critics as an attempt by the Kremlin to lure opposition-minded, pro-business voters, while creating an illusion of competition with the ruling United Russia party ahead of elections." The Kremlin, which is the main Russian governmental building, closely monitors the political activities of the country's billionaires known as oligarchs.

If Prokhorov succeeds, it will be the first time a Russian business tycoon has taken a prominent role in politics since the imprisonment in 2003 of another Mikhail, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The win would also establish Prokhorov as one of the world's richest politicians or royals. Currently, the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, is No. 1 with an estimated worth of $30 billion.

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