12 Dec 2011 10:16 AM EST
-by Alex Mangini, Staff Writer; Image: Mikhail Prokhorov (Image Source: NJ.com)
Russian billionaire and New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov announced his plans to oppose current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in next March’s presidential election, reports the BBC.
Prokhorov is ranked by Forbes as Russia’s third richest man, with a worth of around $18 billion.
While the country rose in protest against voting fraud allegedly used by Putin to gain power, Prokhorov kick started his plans with what he called “the most serious decision” of his life.
“I have made the most serious decision of my life. I am running for president,” Prokhorov told the media.
Prokhorov momentarily ran under the United Russia party in an attempt to get involved in this month’s parliamentary elections earlier this year, but later resigned from his own party, the Right Cause party, “following an internal power struggle that he blamed on the Kremlin,” the BBC says.
He accused Kremlin strategist Vladislav Surkov of being linked to the party’s split and said he would push for Surkov’s dismissal.
“I have found a more sophisticated way [to dismiss Surkov],” he said on Monday. “I think I should just become his boss.”
Prokhorov will need 2 million signatures to get on the ballot.
According to Bloomberg, the billionaire said both Putin and Dmitry Medvedev declined to meet with him to discuss his presidential bid.
In a recent blog, Prokhorov said he saw discussed the prospect of running against Putin.
“Whether they [Russian people] like it or not, Putin is so far the only figure who can manage this inefficient state machine,” he wrote.
Prokhorov, who is overseeing the NBA’s Nets’ move from Newark to Brooklyn next year, insisted that he would run on a platform, and criticism of the current President.
“Criticism must make up no more than 10 percent... I would like to focus on the things I would do.”