For nearly a decade, since the October 2003 arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, there has been an implicit understanding that Russia's top business leaders must steer clear of politics -- or face very unpleasant consequences.
That all changed rather abruptly last month when Mikhail Prokhorov, chairman of the Onexim Group, agreed to head up the center-right party Right Cause -- apparently with the Kremlin's blessing. Prokhorov is expected to be formally elected head of Right Cause at a party congress on June 25.
Prokhorov is already recruiting more businessmen to join the party; he says he wants to re-brand it and change its name; and has been extremely confident in his public statements about its prospects in the December 2011 State Duma elections. He even predicts that Right Cause will have the second largest faction in the next Duma, after the ruling United Russia.
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-- Brian Whitmore