Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, one of Russia’s richest tycoons and owner of the New Jersey Nets, says he will run against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in that county’s upcoming presidential election.
The metals billionaire announced his decision to enter the race after anti-government protesters held Russia’s biggest demonstration in years, decrying alleged vote fraud during the recent parliamentary election.
The 46-year-old Prokhorov says he hopes to win the support of Russia’s growing and increasingly restless middle class.
Putin’s United Russia party had a poor showing in the parliamentary elections, winning only about 50 percent of the vote, compared to 64 percent four years ago.
Prokhorov needs to secure 2 million signatures to get on the ballot in March’s presidential election.