Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov dissolved the executive committee of the pro-business Pravoye Delo party amid what he called an attempted “hostile takeover” by the Kremlin.
Twenty-one “fake” candidates appeared at a party congress today, replacing elected party members from the regions in a “raid,” Prokhorov, the New Jersey Nets owner, told reporters in Moscow.
“You are waiting for my announcement that I am stepping down as the party Chairman? Fat chance!” Prokhorov told a crowd of reporters in his office in the center of Moscow today. The Kremlin press service declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg.
Prokhorov, owner of a fortune that Forbes estimates at about $18 billion, headed the pro-business party in June. Pravoye Delo is set to battle with Vladimir Putin’s United Russia during parliamentary elections in December.
Prokhorov, an investor in United Co. Rusal and Polyus Gold International Ltd., said he discussed the development of Pravoye Delo with Vladislav Surkov, the first deputy chief of staff of President Dmitry Medvedev’s administration, earlier this week.
Members of Pravoye Delo, representing Russia’s different territories, have been pressed by the regions for participating in an opposition party, Prokhorov said. Upon arrival in Moscow for today’s party congress, some of them were invited for ‘talks’ with Kremlin administration, he said.
The congress chose a mandate committee and a counting board behind the chairman’s back, while the discussions and voting were scheduled for Sept. 15, Prokhorov said. He fired the officials elected as “illegitimate,” using his right set in the party’s charter, he said.
The real congress meeting will take place tomorrow, the chairman said. Prokhorov promised to attend and draw final conclusions on today’s attack on the party. Alla Pugachyova, a 62-year-old ex-Soviet singer, agreed to attend the congress tomorrow, Prokhorov said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Ilya Khrennikov in Moscow at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Torrey Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org