Russian Tycoon Eyes PM Job, Vows to Get Russia in Schengen, Euro Zone

World | August 11, 2011, Thursday // 18:01|  views

Businessman Mikhail Prokhorov, of Russia, the principal owner of the New Jersey Nets, speaks in New York, New York, USA, on 19 May 2010. EPA/BGNES

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has made clear his political ambitions, and has declared that Russia's place is in the Schengen Area and the euro zone.

In June, Prokhorov, Russia's third richest man with a fortune estimated at USD 22.7 B, agreed to head the Pravoye Delo party, or the Right Cause, which he said he wants to become the second largest party in December's parliamentary elections.

Prokhorov is the chairman of Polyus Gold, Russia`s largest gold producer, President of Onexim Group, and owner of the NBA team New Jersey Nets.

"I think I am capable of doing the tasks of the prime minister," Prokhorov said at a news conference in Moscow, as cited by RIA Novosti, before adding that his views as a premier should concur with those of the president

"I could not be a prime minister under an agenda which I don't believe in. Under the constitution, the president sets the agenda, so if the program that Pravoye Delo puts forth is shared by a large number of people or the man who becomes president in March, then [the premiership] is a distinct possibility," Prokhorov elaborated.

Pravoye Delo strongly supports President Dmitry Medvedev's modernization agenda, and Prokhorov's many fields of activity include nanotechnology and a "people's" hybrid car, RIA Novosti pointed out.

Prokhorov said the Right Cause party would seek to form a "greater Europe" with Russia's integration into the Schengen zone and the euro zone.

"I think our country should make a decisive step toward rapprochement with Europe by first of all joining the Schengen zone and secondly entering the euro zone," he said.

In his words, combining Russia's vast territory and the potential of a great transport power and natural resources with Europe's economic capacity would surely be mutually advantageous. Prokhorov, however, did not explicitly say whether he thinks Russia should become formally an EU member.

The tycoon pledged that if his party's ambitions are realized, Russia would become a leading European economy within seven to ten years and would provide for the self-sufficiency of the euro, consolidate Europe's sovereignty and help quickly overcome the global economic recession, he said.

"The future global economy will be based on three powerful centers - America and Latin America, greater Europe, and China with the rest of Asia," he said, adding that this model was the most balanced and would be the most effective driving force.

"Each country in the new world should pursue an aggressive strategy for development," he said. "For Russia, I have a plan... to return to the old new idea of forming 'greater Europe' stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok."

RIA Novosti points out that the United Russia party led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin criticized Prokhorov's proposals as being far from reality and too "liberal."

"If Russia joins the euro zone... it would mean giving up economic sovereignty and this move has doubtful prospects, considering the current economic problems in the European Union," said Yury Shuvalov, a deputy spokesman for United Russia.

In his interview, Prokhorov also said that the ruble tied to energy export revenues had no chance of becoming even a regional currency, let alone a savings currency, which underlies any economic development.

But Shuvalov contradicted him by saying that the Russian ruble was already becoming a regional currency dominating in mutual payments with Belarus and Kazakhstan and would be even more so when the three countries form a customs union and become a single economic area.

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Tags: Russia, Mikhail Prokhorov, Russian, Vladimir Putin, Right Cause party, Pravoe Delo, United Russia Party, Schengen Area, EU, euro zone, ruble, oligarch, tycoon, Polyus Gold, Onexim Group


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