Posts Tagged ‘politics

17
Jun
11

Mikhail Prokhorov enters politics… and gets a tax investigation

Was it a safe choice for russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov to enter politics? The giant womanizer is being sued by a Siberian region for tens of millions of dollars in allegedly unpaid taxes, just after he announced he was entering politics, reports said on Saturday.

The Lenosibirsk district of the Krasnoyarsk region of central Siberia is seeking two billion rubles (70 million dollars) from billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, the RIA Novosti news agency and Kommersant daily reported.

The move comes just a month after Prokhorov, head of the Onexim investment holding with a reported fortune of $18 billion, unexpectedly announced he was going into politics and planned to lead the Right Cause Party.

Prokhorov is registered in the tiny Siberian village of Eruda and pays his taxes there.

The local branch of the tax service believes Prokhorov failed to pay taxes due to the Russian state on a transaction in Britain — in south Wales — in 2008, the deputy head of the regional anti-monopoly service Oleg Kharchenko was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying.

“As the Lenosibirsk tax inspectorate lacks an experienced specialist in the problems of south Welsh tax law, they asked the anti-monopoly service for help,” he was quoted as saying.

A source in the regional tax inspectorate told RIA Novosti that the issue had already gone to court.

Prokhorov was quoted on the sidelines of the Saint Petersburg Economic Forum as acknowledging the dispute but expressing confidence that he would win in court.

The entry of Prokhorov into politics sent a ripple of excitement through Russia’s political scene, though cynics pointed out that neither the billionaire nor his party have so far sharply criticised the Kremlin.

Kommersant underlined the coincidence of the timing of the case with the headline: “Prokhorov has now got into real politics.”

Russia’s former richest man Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003 on suspicion of tax evasion, at a time when he was financing opposition parties. He was convicted twice and is not due for release until 2016.

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24
May
11

Many questions about Putin’s proposal for “unified civil front”

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has observers scratching their heads over his dramatic appeal to build a “unified civil front” of political parties and social groups to confront an unspecified national dilemma.

The idea sounds baffling since Russia, despite its various issues, does not appear to face a looming crisis that would justify putting aside political differences for the common good. Some experts scoff that the unmentioned emergency is Mr. Putin’s own poll numbers.

Putin, who is widely suspected to be eyeing a return to the presidency, saw his numbers plunge in recent polls and rating for the party he leads, United Russia, also dropped. RELATED: Putin’s marquee moments.

But a few critics warn darkly that Putin may be seeking to reshape Russian political culture into one of forced social unity similar to the former Soviet system, in which all of civil society – including media, trade unions, the church, youth, women’s groups, even sports clubs – were held in captive orbits around the all-powerful ruling party.

“I propose the creation of something that in practical politics is called a unified civil front, an organization to unify the efforts of various political forces ahead of major events of political character,” Putin told a conference of United Russia in the central Russian city of Volgograd last Friday.

‘Fresh ideas, fresh proposals’

The front should recruit into its ranks all organizations and people “who are united by the idea to strengthen our country and by the wish to search for the most optimal ways of solving current problems,” he added. Putin spent much of the long weekend (Monday was Victory Day, a major holiday in Russia) meeting with business and social leaders to test the idea, which would include opening up as much as a third of United Russia’s candidate lists to nonparty members affiliated with the new front.

“United Russia needs an inflow of fresh ideas, fresh proposals, and fresh faces,” he told journalists. Sign up for our daily World Editor’s Picks newsletter. Our best stories, in your inbox. United Russia, the state-backed political behemoth whose membership is packed with officials, has given Putin near undisputed control over most legislatures in Russia for nearly a decade, including a two-thirds majority in the Duma.

But lately its public approval rating has slumped dramatically. The party, which won 67 percent in 2007 Duma elections, was supported by just 43 percent of Russians, according to an April survey by the independent Public Opinion Fund (FOM).

“Putin [who leads United Russia] aims to secure his own position in case of a poor showing by the party in the coming Duma elections,” says Nikolai Petrov, an expert with the Carnegie Center in Moscow. “The idea is to add some fresh faces, so that the candidate list doesn’t just consist of the same old dull bureaucrats and corrupt officials. It’s just an electoral scheme.”

17
May
11

Politics: what is Prokhorov’s game plan?

Is Mikhail Prokhorov defying Vladim Putin’s authority by entering politics? Since Khodorkovsky’s indictment something was clear in Russia: oligarchs make business and Putin makes politics… A new deal in Russian balance of powers?

Mr Prokhorov wants to lead the Pravoye Dyelo party, or Right Cause.

He owns much of Russia’s gold and nickel production, with other interests as diverse as nanotechnology, a hybrid car and the New Jersey Nets basketball club.

The last oligarch to turn politician, Mikhail Khodorkovksy, ended up in prison.

Mr Prokhorov made his money in the chaotic years of Russian privatisation during the 1990s.

His fortune is reportedly worth $22.7bn (£14bn), which puts him among the top three Russian billionaires.

Now he is diversifying beyond business.

Prostitutes allegation

The Right Cause party he has offered to lead strongly supports President Dmitry Medvedev, at a time when there’s mounting speculation that Vladimir Putin wants a return to the presidency.

It was founded just two years ago as a pro-business party promoting free-market reforms, the rule of law and an end to what it calls the “arbitrary rule of corrupt officialdom”.

Mr Prokhorov’s declared aims would be to lead Right Cause to second place in parliamentary elections coming up in December, behind the United Russia party, whose chairman is Vladimir Putin.

United Russia is expected to win the parliamentary elections comfortably, but they are widely seen as a dress rehearsal for the presidential election in March.

Both Prime Minister Putin and President Medvedev are potential contenders for the presidency next time around.

If Mr Prokhorov succeeds in taking over as leader of Right Cause, it will be the first time a Russian business tycoon has taken a prominent role in politics since the imprisonment in 2003 of Mr Khodorkovsky, then head of the Yukos oil giant.

Mr Khodorkovsky’s supporters have always insisted this was punishment for daring to oppose Mr Putin.

Based on his statement today, Mikhail Prokhorov appears to be taking care to avoid posturing as a defiant opponent of the Kremlin.

Right Cause has so far struggled to attract heavyweight leaders in its ranks. Liberals have kept their distance from it, seeing it as too close to the government.

Mr Prokhorov’s business empire is based on the Onexim Group, which has wide variety of interests, with gold and nickel at their core.

In January 2007, he was arrested on suspicion of arranging prostitutes for guests at a party he hosted in the French Alpine resort of Courchevel.

The case was later dismissed, and Mr Prokhorov was cleared

18
Dec
10

Russian priests allowed to get into politics

The Soviet era is finally over! Orthodox priests are now allowed (in very specific cases) to get into politics… A religious revolution for Russia.

Russian priests may be allowed to be involved in politics in a case of “a church dire need,” Echo Moskvy radio station reported citing a chairman of the Synodal Department for Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church and Society, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin.

Russia Orthodox Church developed a draft document under which priests may be allowed to nominate candidates for election to any authorities.

“That does not mean that any priests will be able to run for the State Duma,” Chaplin said. “We are talking about exceptional cases,” he continued.

23
Nov
09

Mikhail Gorbachev wants to come back!!!

Former (and last) soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, 78, said he is thinking of a political come back! Gorbachev who’s been heading charitable organization since the early 1990’s but recently (re)-started to make political statements. Intriguing enough for a man who has everythhing to win in politics and so much to lose.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev criticized Kremlin policies Friday and toyed with the ambitious idea of attempting a political comeback.

Gorbachev said that corruption and overdependence on oil exports have aggravated the impact of the global economic crisis on Russia. He urged President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to restructure the economy, cut down government spending and ensure political freedoms.

But he also suggested everyday Russians must shake their reliance on government largesse that has been boosted by energy price hikes during the past decade.

“We have paternalistic expectations of government support,” he told a conference at his charitable foundation. “The price of oil has gone up a little bit, and we’re saying that life is back to normal.”

Gorbachev said his concerns about Russia are prompting him to consider a more active role in politics.

“What I have said motivates me to create a political force that could oppose, that could pose questions,” he said. “Evidently there is a need for it, and we should initiate it.”

He spoke hesitantly, however, and seemed to acknowledge he would have a hard time winning active backing, even from like-minded people.

“Even those sitting here, I am sure no more than 10 per cent will say there is a need to act,” Gorbachev said. “It’s a personal choice, so make up your mind.”

Gorbachev, 78, remains popular abroad for the role he played in ending the Cold War and liberating Eastern Europe from Moscow’s grip. He was cheered enthusiastically by Germans this month at celebrations commemorating the 20th anniversary of Berlin Wall’s fall.

But he is disliked by many Russians who blame him for the collapse of the Soviet Union and the years of social and economic turmoil that followed it.

Gorbachev has maintained a relatively low profile since stepping down as Soviet president in 1991 as the country disintegrated, and his political ventures have little success. In 2001, he helped found the Social Democratic Party of Russia, but resigned three years later in a dispute among its leaders about working more closely with the dominant Kremlin-backed party, United Russia.

The Social Democratic Party later was one of several ordered closed by the Supreme Court under new registration rules critics said were intended to help the Kremlin consolidate power. In 2007, Gorbachev was elected head of the Union of Social Democrats, which was formed with the goal of challenging the Kremlin, but its emergence went widely unnoticed.

17
Apr
09

The Siloviki faction: they are everywhere!!!

071031_putin_01In a recent post, I wrote about Hawks and doves within the Kremlin and many thought (as I expected) I was talking about the so-called Siloviki/financiers struggle.

Well, I wasn’t… Because I just don’t believe in this Siloviki faction you hear about whenever you read about Russian politics.

What is exactly this Siloviki faction anyway? For western journalists it is something like a sect or at least a secret order built on the ashes of the infamous KGB and which plans to take over Russia.

I”m not too much into conspiracy theories and I tend not to believe in globalizing theories. Let me explain.

According to many “observers”, the Siloviki faction gathers people close to Putin former FSB agents and/or people from St-Petersburg. Basically anyone who has ever met Putin!!!

I don’t buy it. Can we then talk about a “Chicago clique” behind Obama? I mean, is there something more common for a leader than to hire counselors he knows, with whom he has a common background.

Does it make a faction out of them? An unbreakable link? A common vision and objectives? Does it prevennt personal ambition?

But there’s more when you talk about the Siloviki. The alleged members of this faction would be ploting to take over Russia. Come on! In which circles close to government don’t you see people taking advantage of their situation. Corruption and embezzlement does not only exist in Putin’s Russia.

So, Putin has brought with him a bunch of hardcore nationalists, but is he himself anything else than a hardcore nationalist.

I think this all Siloviki fantasy is the silliest journalistic invention around Putin and his ambition for Russia. He does not need any secret faction to implement his politics. Unfortunately???