Tycoon Prokhorov vows to fight for party billboards

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov on Wednesday blamed regional authorities for the defacing or removing billboards promoting his Right Cause party.

Right Cause said the cases took place in the last seven days in the cities of Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Kemerovo, Nizhny Novgorod and Moscow, as a result of which 300 billboards and posters were destroyed.

“We know that all this is done on the direct instruction from local authorities, who know even before the election campaign what the election results should be. They are afraid that we will prevent them from ensuring the planned percent for United Russia,” Prokhorov said, as quoted by his press service.

“We need to break this system, and we will do it. We will file lawsuits with courts, acts, complaints with police,” he said.

Opposition figures and critics have often blamed authorities for using “administrative resources” at previous parliamentary elections to increase the number of votes cast for the ruling United Russia party.

Meanwhile, a police spokesman in Yekaterinburg commented on the dismantling of a billboard featuring a portrait of Prokhorov, saying the company which put the billboards up in the Urals city dismantled it later after ruling it to be political. The company said the billboard has been safely put in storage.

Elections to the lower house of Russian parliament, the State Duma, are slated for December of this year and by law campaigns may begin only one month prior to the poll date.

The head of Moscow’s department of media and advertising, Vladimir Chernikov, said the Russian capital’s authorities have nothing to do with the dismantling of billboards.

Prokhorov has announced that his party aims to win the second place at the forthcoming parliamentary elections to the State Duma in December to become the second party of power.

Prokhorov, ranked by Forbes as Russia’s third richest man with a fortune of $18 billion, formally quit business in July to go into politics.

Right Cause, which was established two years ago, currently has no representation in Russia’s lower house of parliament.

In late June, Prokhorov also left the post of the general director of Russia’s largest gold miner Polyus Gold.

Prokhorov remains the main beneficiary of both Onexim and Polyus Gold even though he has quit his executive posts.

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