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Mikhail Prokhorov exiting Russian politics

Mike Stobe

Mikhail Prokhorov, who ran against Vladimir Putin for president of Russia in 2012 and considered running for mayor of Moscow in 2013, is stepping down from the leadership of the political party he founded, a further indication that he's accelerating his exit from Russian politics and returning to his business roots, which includes the Nets.

Moscow newspapers report Wednesday that Prokhorov is stepping down from the political leadership of Civic Platform, the party he founded, and that his sister, Irina, one of Russia's leading intellectuals, may do the same.  In December, he stepped down from the party chairmanship and was replaced by his sister. Irina Prokhorova filled in for her brother at a 2012 presidential debate and drew comparisons to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, leading some to hope that she would take up her brother's mantle.

Iszvestia, one of Russia's leading papers, said that Prokhorov had become "disillusioned with politics and sees no reason to be one of the parliamentary leaders" of a party that had limited chances of success.  In the recent crisis over Russian moves in Ukraine, Prokhorov has limited himself to suggestions that Russia isn't prepared to deal with western sanctions. Irina, on the other hand, has been vocal in protesting crackdowns on dissent.

Prokhorov is expect to return to running ONEXIM, his $15 billion empire that includes the Nets.  But he gave notice Thursday that he won't be keeping quiet on the political/economic front, offering a new way to look at Russia's internal borders, from an economic perspective.

He will still have a role in Russian economic policy. Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed him this week to the board of directors of Rusnano, a state-owned venture capital firm that invests in nanotechnologies worldwide. Rusnano has invested $1.2 billion in US high-tech firms, according to reports.