The owner of the New Jersey Nets has announced his bid to run for president of Russia against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Mikhail Prokhorov, 46, is a Russian nillionaire who became the majority stakeholder in the New Jersey Nets franchise in 2010. Forbes Magazine estimates his worth at $18 billion, most of which he has earned from metals and banking.
''The society is waking up,'' Prokhorov said at a press conference in Moscow. ''Those authorities who will fail to establish a dialogue with the society will have to go.''
Prokhorov’s comments hinted toward accusations of election fraud made against presidential candidate Vladimir Putin during parliamentary elections.
The allegations have begun to hurt Putin's party which won approximately 50 percent of that vote, in comparison to 64 percent four years ago.
Massive anti-Putin campaigns have been launched by opposing parties and citizens. On Saturday, tens of thousands in Moscow, and groups in lesser numbers in more than 60 cities, protested and called for the end to Putin's rule.
''If you take all the cases of these alleged violations or whatever was published online, the total will be less than 1 percent of the overall number of votes,'' a spokesman for Putin told AP. ''And even hypothetically speaking, if they are all appealed in court, it will in no way affect the legitimacy of the election.''
Prokhorov says he hopes to win the support of Russia's growing middle class who made up the majority of the demonstrators.
Although he has stayed out of Putin’s way until now, Prokhorov is no stranger to politics.
He formed a liberal party with the support of the Kremlin and then he abandoned the party because of what he called Kremlin pressure. He expects the campaign will help him build a new party with the help of Russia's grass-roots activists.
The tycoon said he is not afraid that his political goals will harm his business or personal life.
''I'm not doing anything illegal,'' he said.