Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov said in his blog he saw no alternative to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as president but called for an overhaul of the premier’s United Russia party.
Putin, who is a candidate in presidential elections next March, has seen his popularity decline due to allegations of vote fraud in December 4 parliamentary elections that have prompted street protests.
"The majority of our people think the elections were unfair, and many did not vote because they think there is no one to vote for,” Prokhorov said in his LiveJournal blog. “But whether they like it or not, Putin is so far the only figure who can manage this inefficient state machine.”
Prokhorov, number 32 on Forbes 2011 list of the world's richest people, was elected leader of the Right Cause party in June 2011. He quit two months later, charging that the Kremlin was bent on controlling the party.
In his blog entry, the tycoon warned against a revolution, saying that Russian revolutions have historically cost lives and led to a drop in living standards.
“Both society and the authorities have a long way to go toward each other. But I don’t see any other way and do not wish it for my country,” the 46-year-old billionaire said.
Prokhorov, who owns the New Jersey Nets basketball team, said United Russia needs reforms that should be carried out by the man who led the party in the latest elections, President Dmitry Medvedev.
“As leader of the [United Russia] ticket, Medvedev could run the Duma effectively and make it a scene for debate and the center of legislative initiative,” Prokhorov said.
In the runup to the presidential polls, Prokhorov suggested that the number of signatures candidates are required to collect should be reduced 90% and that they be allowed to represent not only parliamentary parties but also public organizations and blocs.
Prokhorov has said he is ready to serve as prime minister, while political observers speculate he may have presidential ambitions.