New Jersey Nets owner Mikahil Prokhorov told reporters on Monday that he plans to challenge Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the March presidential election.
Prokhorov has previously avoided a major clash with Putin, who served as Russia's president in 2000-2008, but announced on Monday his plans to win in March.
This is the most important decision of my life, Prokhorov said at the news conference. The society is waking up. Those authorities who will fail to establish a dialogue with the society will have to go.
The former metals and banking tycoon - worth an estimated $18 billion - previously tried to establish a Kremlin supported liberal party in a parliamentary race, but later abandoned the effort. The 46-year old claimed that one of Putin's staffers, Vladislav Surkov, staged a mutiny within the Kremlin to destroy his efforts.
I can solve that problem by becoming his boss, he said about the past mutiny.
Prokhorov is hoping to capitalize on rising angst against Putin in Russia. On Saturday, thousands of Russians protested in Moscow for the end of Putin's rule. The Nets owner is hoping to tap into that influential base of people to take down the extremely influential Putin.
He will have to collect a minimum of two million signatures in order to qualify to run in the race.
The NBA is yet to comment on Prokhorov's plans for Russian political office. The 6-foot-8 Russian purchased an 80 percent stake in the Nets in 2010 and plans to move the team to Brooklyn next season.