Three years ago, Mikhail Prokhorov ran for president of Russia, garnering eight percent of the vote and finishing third. He had established and financed a political party, Civic Platform, to push his ideas. He planned to run first for Moscow City Council and eventually mayor. This week, he quit the party entirely, calling it "senseless." What's up with that?
Prokhorov's withdrawal from Russian politics started not long after the presidential election, when the Putin-dominated Russian parliament passed a law that forbids senior officials and legislators from holding foreign bank accounts and securities. The law was reportedly directed at Prokhorov because he has significant foreign assets (including the Nets and Barclays Center). At one point, Prokhorov suggested he might transfer the Nets and other foreign assets to a Russian corporation, but there's no indication that ever happened. So his political future became increasingly limited.
Initially, Prokhorov moved into the background, letting his sister, Irina Prokhorova, take over much of his role with Civic Platform. This week, he finally resigned from the party. The supposed straw that broke the camel's back was the decision by many in the party to support a pro-Putin rally without approval from the party's leadership.
Is that the main reason ... or is the Nets owner, who's nearing 50, simply dropping out because he fears continued criticism could affect his businesses? In a story on liberal opposition to Putin after the assassination of former Prokhorov ally Boris Nemtsov, the New York Times reported that he's no longer a real player in the opposition.
Mikhail D. Prokhorov, the billionaire owner of the Brooklyn Nets, and his sister Irina D. Prokhorova, have withdrawn from the leadership of Civic Platform, a move seen as protecting his business interests as the Kremlin soured on even mild critics.
What's this mean for the Nets?
Hard to tell. His tenuous position in Russian politics --and rising tensions between the US and Russia -- could make continued ownership problematic. After all, the Nets are the single most high profile Russian investment in the U.S. On the other hand, the leader of another Russian political party said Prokhorov has always loved sports and this will give him an opportunity to pursue it further!
But, as Adam Silver told Tim Bontemps during the all-Star Weekend, things in Russia have affected his ability to attend Nets games.
"I know he would have liked to have spent more time in Brooklyn, but the situation back in Russia, especially over the last year, hasn’t allowed him to travel as much as he hoped."
Silver didn't explain further.
- Billionaire Prokhorov calls own party ‘senseless’ and quits - Russia Today