Billionaire tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov announced on Saturday that he has joined the Civic Platform party he founded in July and will henceforth engage in politics full time.
“From this day forward I will engage exclusively in political activity,” Prokhorov said at the party convention in Moscow.
Prokhorov, 47, also said he is a candidate to become the leader of the party, an issue that will be decided by the political committee later.
Prokhorov previously said he would not join the party or serve as its head.
During his speech to the assembled delegates, Prokhorov called for amending the Constitution to end Russia’s division into ethnic “districts and republics,” saying they amount to “ghettos” where corruption thrives.
They are “national ghettos were corrupt local authorities oppress and rob our people, people of all ethnicities,” he said.
Prokhorov said the country’s current administrative divisions were a throwback to “a Stalinist-Leninist system that is no longer effective in the 21st century.”
Redrawing the boundaries would redirect budget resources to the municipalities, he said.
Prokhorov also called for an end to the influx of unskilled migrant workers to Russia, at the same time he acknowledged they are needed to offset a steep decline in Russia’s working age population projected to occur in the next few decades.
Migrant workers ought to be required to study Russia’s language and culture, he said.
“Of course, we need to have a dollop of tolerance, too.”
In a brief address at the convention, legendary Soviet-era pop diva Alla Pugacheva told delegates that the country "needs a master who can be trusted."
Civic Platform, which was registered as a party on July 31, 2012, will comprise 500 members, the minimal number for the registration of a political movement.
The party plans to recruit candidates from “real life,” Prokhorov wrote on his blog in June.
“The idea of the new concept is that the leaders that will be promoted by the party in politics, must not appear from inside the party. We will seek them out in real life, based on their everyday deeds,” Prokhorov wrote.
“Those who can find support in the regions will become candidates from our party…to enter into power and do what people need.”
The party will also form a “federal civic committee” comprising activists from civic movements throughout Russia, Prokhorov said on Saturday.
The committee represents an absolutely new format in Russian politics, he said without elaborating on what exactly the proposed body's function would be.
Civic Platform is the tycoon’s third political project in little more than a year. In 2011 Prokhorov briefly headed Right Cause, a flagging liberal party with Kremlin connections, until being ousted by the party bureaucracy in a coup that he suspected was the Kremlin’s revenge for his opposition slant.
In March 4 presidential elections that secured a third term for Vladimir Putin, the tycoon-turned-politician finished third with over eight percent of the votes.
The Russian edition of Forbes estimated Prokhorov’s fortune at $13.2 billion in 2012, making him the seventh richest person in Russia.