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Prokhorov's sister slams Putin crackdown on Russian media

Prokhorov Foundation

Irina Prokhorova, sister of the Nets owner and one of Russia's leading intellectuals, is among those leading the country's liberal elite in attacking the Russian government's crackdown on the media and academia, Foreign Policy Magazine reports.

Ms. Prokhorova, who runs the Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation and his political party, Civic Platform, is also among Russia's leading publishers of literary and academic works. This week, she reacted to President Vladimir Putin's March 18 speech in which he vowed to react harshly to any challenges from domestic critics he described as "traitors" or members of a subversive "fifth column." The authorities quickly responded by issuing a set of new laws and rules, FP reports.

"Psychologically it’s very difficult," Ms. Prokhorova told Foreign Policy. "In an instant, we suddenly seem to be living in a completely different country, a country where freedom of speech and human rights are dying.

"They’re the real fifth column, not us. We’re the real patriots, people who have spent decades creating useful and truly beautiful institutions for our country."

Ms. Prokhorova is close to her brother and in the 2012 presidential election, she filled in for him in a debate with a Putin supporter, a performance for which she won great praise.

Mikhail Prokhorov has been careful to avoid direct confrontation with Putin since the Ukraine crisis began. His last blog entry on the crisis came March 6, more than a week before Crimea voted to re-join Russia. In that, he called for Russia, the United States and European Union to solve the problem together, warning of economic chaos.