Tycoon Lebedev joins Putin’s Popular Front

Billionaire banker Aleksandr Lebedev is set to run in the primaries for United Russia’s Popular Front.

Lebedev, the 45th richest man in Russia, will be one of the candidates bidding for a seat in the State Duma in the Kirov region, where he is well known, the Vedomosti daily reported, citing an insider source.

The media tycoon told the RIA-Novosti news agency that he learned about the news only from the paper, but would gladly take such a promising opportunity.

“Elections are a tool, so why can’t I use this tool? Especially if I know what I can do with such a tool,” Lebedev was quoted as saying.

The businessman, who owns the National Reserve Bank, announced his intention to join the Popular Front this past May, but received no response.

So keen was Lebedev to join the front, however, that he wrote personally to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, promising to retire from business and apply for membership in the Popular Front.

In an interview with RT, Lebedev said that he wants “to help the country get rid of the corruption that penetrates Russia’s financial system.”

“Both Medvedev and Putin have just been improving the infrastructural side, the legislation,” Lebedev said. “But in reality, I don’t think corruption diminished to the extent we are looking for. For example, we are now looking into government procurements, which are not as transparent as we want them to be.”

The initiative to set up an All-Russia Popular Front came from Putin at the beginning of May. The aim of the movement is to bring together a number of various political parties, trade unions, and youth and women’s organizations on a single political platform.

Lebedev, meanwhile, is not the only tycoon who has decided to enter politics this year. In May, the Right Cause liberal party managed to recruit tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov as its next leader. Prokhorov, in turn, reportedly invited another billionaire, businessman Suleyman Kerimov, to join the party.

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