There was the overwhelmingly good publicity via 60 Minutes, Bloomberg TV/magazines, and the New York Times Magazine.
Entering the arena
Now, as he enters the political arena, his shorthand biography, at least for American consumption in the New York Times, inevitably includes the basketball team. The Times article is headlined Russian Billionaire Announces Plan for Political Party:
MOSCOW— Mikhail D. Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire and owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, announced on Monday that he would lead a liberal Russian political party with close ties to the Kremlin.Given that the party was set up by those in power, is there any echo of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement here?
The decision, seven months before parliamentary elections, seems to be part of a Kremlin effort to provide an alternative for Russians disaffected with the country’s dominant political party, United Russia, while still ensuring continued support for the ruling authorities.
The party that Mr. Prokhorov will lead, Right Cause, generally espouses pro-Western, liberal views in tune with those of the business and intellectual elite in Moscow and St. Petersburg. But the party was set up by the Kremlin in 2008, and some critics refer to it as nothing more than a fake opposition intended to help give Russia the semblance of a real, multiparty democracy.
Contributing to AY?
The Times states:
His international prestige has also been rising in large part because of his 2010 purchase of the Nets. Since closing the deal, he has courted fans, cavorting with Jay-Z, the rap star and part owner of the Nets, and pledging to contribute to the Atlantic Yards development project in Brooklyn, where the Nets will move. At a news conference in January, he declared, “America, I come in peace.”(Emphasis added)
Pledging to contribute to Atlantic Yards? That sounds like it's some kind of charity. If Prokhorov gets another piece of Atlantic Yards--remember, he already has 45% of the arena holding company, he wouldn't be contributing; he'd be investing to make a profit.
"A serious mistake"
The Wall Street Journal, in Nets Owner Prokhorov to Lead Russian Business Party, quoted a critic:
"He is a glittering figure with good ideas, he's someone who the Kremlin can use to brighten up the morose environment," said Boris Nemtsov, an opposition politician and one-time leader of another pro-business party, Union of Right Forces.
But Mr. Nemtsov said he believes Mr. Prokhorov's decision was a "serious mistake." Right Cause was formed in late 2008 largely on the rump of the Union of Right Forces, whose chief leaders, including Mr. Nemtsov, quit after complaining of interference from the Kremlin.
"That party is obliged to be loyal to the regime, and it will not be allowed to do anything independently," Mr. Nemtsov said. "If he ever does become popular, then they will perceive him as a threat."