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a positive development

According to Russian Mafia, (The Endlessly Fascinating) Putin will reclaim the presidency in December.

A major banker and former high-profile official, who talks with both Putin and Medvedev regularly, said: “A month ago Volodya and Dima sat down to talks and dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s. Putin will be the next president. Before the decision was made, both had been very angry and nervous, now they are different people, smiling and telling jokes”.
Here is the list of sources, that confirmed the information: a major St Petersburg businessman, who has been a Putin's friend for over 20 years, a high-profile officer at the interior ministry, who is a Medvedev's friend, and a number of officials. All of them say Putin will retake the presidential office. For them the presidential vote in December is no longer an enigma. Putin will again lead Russia.
Recent statements made by prime minister Putin hints to the fact that election campaign has started. His speech, as well as his unexpected appearance at the bikers' rally in Novorossiysk, riding a motorcycle, has resembled that of the candidate to the presidency.  

More pics at Daily Mail, which adds, very helpfully:

"'Boys, girls you are great. Not only are you having fun while riding your bikes but you are also combining it with patriotic deeds.' Obviously, it sounded better in Russian." 

We noted in the last post that Russia and several of the Central Asian states paid close attention to the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria, and decided they ought to take some protective measures.

Just a month ago, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov was gearing up to be president of Russia running on the Right Cause party ticket.

Prokhorov, one of Russia’s richest businessmen, has only recently entered the political arena, though he has very ambitious plans. In June 2011 he became the head of Right Cause – a political party which was formed in 2008 as a successor to the market-oriented Union of Right Forces, the Democratic Party of Russia and the Civil Power party. Prokhorov claims that the Right Cause must become the second largest faction in the lower house after United Russia, and he has already started to attract individuals who could potentially form a shadow government.
Just a month ago, he was encouraging Russia to integrate with Europe. He was encouraging Russians to convert the "lion's share of their savings into euros and dollars." See video. According to Prokhorov, this would be the best way for RUSSIA to grow. Hmm. Seems to us that Russians putting the lion's share of their savings into euros and dollars would be bad for Russians, but what do we know. Prokhorov is the billionaire, not us. He made lots and lots of money with the oligarchs in the 1990s, as they disemboweled the Russian economy like a school of piranhas. And evidently, he is in tight with some Europeans (same link).
The decision to integrate Russia into Europe might seem a little eccentric for Prokhorov, who went through a public scandal with at least one European nation – France. In January 2007, Prokhorov and four of his friends were arrested and detained for several days in the ski resort of Courchevel over suspicion of involvement in a prostitution ring. Police released Prokhorov without pressing any charges, but the criminal case was closed only two years later. Media reports quoted French police sources as saying that some of the girls accompanying Prokhorov on his skiing trip had received gifts worth thousands of dollars, but investigators have failed to prove that this was not a genuine friendship, but a business arrangement. Also in 2009, the French government officially apologized to Prokhorov and in March 2011, the Russian businessman was awarded the French Order of the Legion of Honor.
Kiss kiss hug hug.

Michael Weiss of The Henry Jackson Society, in June 2011, was complaining (bitterly) about the Lack of Democracy in Russia, and bemoaning that "real" opposition parties can't get off the ground because the Kremlin intimidates people, and squashes budding democracy movements like bugs. And he had this to say about Prokhorov:
Here’s the kind of opposition party that can emerge in Russia: On Monday, it was reported that the “new” Right Course party would stand for the upcoming election. But there’s nothing new about it. The Right Course Party was registered back in 2009 to succeed the Union of Right Forces. It’s headed by Mikhail Prokhorov, the third richest man in Russia (he owns the New Jersey Nets basketball team in America), who disdains the term “opposition” and who’s chums with both Putin and Medvedev. Prokhorov is a major sponsor of the Seliger Camp...[Seliger Youth Camp, held annually in the Khimki Forest outside of Moscow, and sponsored by corporate giants such as Johnson & Johnson and Ernst and Young. Last July, Seliger featured an exhibition called, “You are not welcome here” - with mannequins of public figures ranging from Condoleeza Rice to Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, all wearing Nazi caps.

Aha, Weiss suggests Prokhorov is bad? He sponsors (along with evil corporations) creepy youth camps in the woods? We can believe all that but... pals around with Putin and Medvedev?

Really? Those are his chums? That seemed a little odd to us. Prokhorov, after all, hangs out in Courchevel.
An estimated 10,000 Russians have packed into Courchevel for the Orthodox Christmas and New Year for each of the past few years. Mr Prokhorov, who is estimated to be worth more than £3 billion, is famous among them for lavish parties at which guests, dropped off by armoured Humvees and Mercedes, enjoy jereboams of Cristal champagne, the rich Russians’ favourite.
See pictures of people in Courcheval, among other locales, here: Some Shots of Oligarchs Life. For fun, you can look them up at Russian Mafia.

[In 2008, Prokhorov denied buying the world's costliest villa, Villa Leopolda, once owned by Edmond Safra. Lily Safra reportedly displayed nerves of steel waiting for months for the mysterious buyer to raise his bid. Imagine our shock. Prokhorov claimed he was not the buyer and in fact refused to do business in France until France apologized for that prostitution arrest, which naturally, France did. But turns out he *was* the buyer, and he and Lily had a spat over the deposit of $39 million, which Lily won in court, and gave to some of her favorite charities.]

Do you ever wonder who these people are? And who is Michael Weiss? Is he some sort of expert? Really?

Michael Weiss is an American journalist, and contributing editor of Tablet magazine. Having received a BA in History from Dartmouth College in 2002, Weiss has gone on to write extensively on the Middle East, with particular expertise on the Israel-Palestine conflict and human rights issues. His work has been featured in many prestigious publications in both the United States and Britain, including The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph, where he currently contributes a regular blog on Middle Eastern issues. Besides journalism, Weiss is also actively involved in political research, and works for two independent think tanks in London. He is currently Director of Communications for The Henry Jackson Society, and serves as the spokesperson for Just Journalism. Weiss also had a brief foray in the political arena in 2004, when he stood as a candidate for the New York State Assembly.
Well well well, lucky lucky lucky? Or, Top Fucking Talent? Get a BA in history, then go directly to your fantastic career as an established expert and think-tank hot-shot before age 30. Very nice.

Well it turns out that we don't think Prokhorov and Putin are pals after all.
Mikhail Prokhorov, deposed from the leader of the "Right of the case." This decision was made by opponents of a businessman who spent his Congress Party. The representative of the Ministry of Justice has recognized this decision as legitimate. Mr Prokhorov said that he left the project, but from the policy is not going to go away. He named the main culprit for the split first deputy head of presidential administration, Vladislav Surkov, and said he would seek a meeting with the president and prime minister.
The translation is not great, but basically, he got canned. Which is why he claims he quit.

"Mikhail Prokhorov thought that the Lord God grabbed by the beard..." etc. A good article.

And he blames Vladislav Surkov. Who is Vladislav Surkov?

 Stratfor image, click to enlarge
and find

2007, World Politics Review: To look at him, one would never suspect that Vladislav Surkov once worked as an agent for a crack special operations unit in the Red Army's intelligence corps. A svelte, retiring figure, Surkov, 42, usually shies away from the public spotlight. When he does give interviews or make public appearances, therefore, it commonly occasions a media frenzy. Attempts to slice through the veil of mystery shrouding this high-placed presidential aide assume particular urgency because, by some estimates, Surkov is the second most influential person in Russian politics.

Surkov came to the attention of casual Russia-watchers in the West following a well-publicized keynote speech he delivered to a gathering of Russian business people in July 2005. In his speech (delivered behind closed doors), Surkov explained the Kremlin's policies toward a whole range of pressing issues, from the social role of Russia's fledgling business community to Russia's relations with the West. Indeed, its hard-hitting content seemed to present the prevailing ideology of the Putin administration in microcosm. While taking care to present himself as an unimpeachable free marketeer, Surkov railed against the so-called oligarchs, businessmen who made their fortune from the quick-fire privatization of Russia's state-owned assets in the mid-nineties. "We won't allow a small bunch of companies to exercise power in this country. This is not democracy," he reportedly told a rapt audience. ...


freethinker said…
Right Cause collapses:

Hopefully that's good news.
A. Peasant said…
yup that's how i saw it too.
Anonymous said…
It's hard to say....a lot of Russia-watchers suggest Prokhorov and Right Cause were always only Putin Lite anyway, and not "liberal" at all - some went so far as to hypothesize Prokhorov's job was to make Putin look good so he would get more votes. I would have thought the opposite: that those who like Putin but were lured by Prokhorov's "newness" would result in a split vote and less votes for United Russia. My personal take was that Prokhorov is a spoiled rich boy who wanted to try out politics because thrills are hard to come by when you're a multibillionaire who's done it all.

Well, I daresay it's all moot now.

I'm surprised our mutual friend Mr. Browder hasn't made Prokhorov a target of the We Love Bill Browder Fan Club. Mikhail Prokhorov owns half of Renaissance Capital, which became the biggest hedge fund in Russia after Browder's Hermitage Capital Management was kicked to the curb. Browder accused selected Renaissance members of colluding with the Russian government to help bring about Hermitage's demise.
nobody said…
Hullo AP, it's poor of me I know but I was under the impression that the mafia in Russia was 'Russian' in much the same way that the mafia in America is 'American'. Or to put it another way, an all Jewish affair. Has that changed now?

Along those lines could any of the people named in this piece be possessed of any allegiances to any other people or place other than Mother Russia? Not that there's anything wrong with that... Oh wait, yes there is. What was I thinking of? Certainly not Garry Kasparov.

Or is it the case that with the departure of Abramovich and sundry other Jewish oligarchs that everything is fully above board and um... is there a Russian word for 'halal'? I'm just trying to avoid the obvious there.

Speaking of the aforementioned (one of them, not sure which) whatever happened to Georgia and everyone's favourite Israelophile Saakashvili? It's been ages since he had his tanks fire artillery shells into people's basements. He must find that very dull. Do you know what's happened to him?
A. Peasant said…
hey Mark,

My personal take was that Prokhorov is a spoiled rich boy who wanted to try out politics because thrills are hard to come by when you're a multibillionaire who's done it all.

i agree.

that's interesting about Browder not laying a finger on Prokhorov. bullies usually don't go after someone who can kick their ass, so it bespeaks of Prokhorov's connections perhaps?
A. Peasant said…
nobs, no i don't believe anything has changed. Prokhorov is jewish on his father's side.

no i don't know what happened to that twirp sackass or what he's been up to lately. so now i have two things to check out this morning...
Anonymous said…
Very useful post!

- Aangirfan
A. Peasant said…
they have moved on to Yemen. but we don't think they will get as far as Russia.
Anonymous said…
". . . and in March 2011, the Russian businessman was awarded the French Order of the Legion of Honor."

What for? Services To Prostitution?

If so, Berlusconi should be awarded an even dozen.

[It is increasingly taking a stronger and stronger stomach to read about these self-chosen cretins, AP.]