Billionaire presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov on Monday skipped a meeting of the Government Commission on High Technology and Innovations chaired by one of his opponents in the March 4 election, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
“Prokhorov was invited but turned down the invitation,” Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said. “From our point of view that was the wrong decision,” he added.
Prokhorov said political considerations were behind his decision not to attend. “Vladimir Putin is my rival in the upcoming presidential election. I consider it politically wrong to participate in events organized by my rival and which, in fact, are part of his election campaign.”
The meeting aimed to consider the implementation of innovation development programs of the biggest companies with state participation, as well as development of public-private partnership in the high-tech sphere.
Prokhorov has set his sights on becoming the main candidate for the anti-Putin vote.
The tycoon planned to take part in December’s parliamentary elections as the leader of the Right Cause party, but in mid-September he was dismissed as the party’s leader for allegedly not toeing the Kremlin line. He then accused the first Kremlin deputy chief of staff Vladislav Surkov of being linked to the party’s split and said he would push for Surkov’s dismissal.
In late December, Surkov was appointed deputy prime minister and is now participating in the meetings of the Government Commission on High Technology and Innovations.
Prokhorov is one of five presidential hopefuls and the only independent candidate. The four other registered candidates are Putin, moderate social democratic leader Sergei Mironov, populist firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky and communist leader Gennady Zyuganov.