Prokhorov backers say Right Cause congress overtaken

Representatives of tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov, head of the Right Cause party, said on Wednesday that outsiders had been registered for the party congress to vote to expel the party leader.

Congress participants, however, said this information was unsubstantiated and expressed surprise that Prokhorov, who has been leading the party since June, had not turned up at the party meeting ahead of the December elections to parliament.

The Right Cause opened its meeting on Wednesday behind closed doors. Rumors said that the party might consider changing its leader, though the issue is not on the agenda.

Prokhorov’s spokesman said the congress participants had obtained the majority of mandates in the absence of the party leader to vote against him on Thursday. He added that Prokhorov supporters were certain that their opponents in the party had only one-third of votes until today when it all changed.

“They have registered people who had nothing to do with the Right Cause until today, given them voting mandates and set up a mandate commission,” the spokesman said.

Boris Nadezhdin of the party’s federal political council said no irrelevant people had been registered for the congress.

The spokesman said Prokhorov was not within reach to comment. He will give a briefing later on Wednesday.

The party congress participants were surprised at the comments of Prokhorov’s spokesman.

“I am in my right mind, I personally know all the delegates,” Nadezhdin said, adding that there were no outsiders at the meeting. “But what is really surprising is that the party leader is not present.”

Prokhorov, 46, ranked by Forbes as Russia’s third richest man with a fortune of $18 billion, formally quit business in June to head the Right Cause party. He has said he will stand for president next spring if the party does well in December’s parliamentary polls. His proposals on the modernization of Russia have been publically supported by President Dmitry Medvedev.

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