The New York Times today strains really, really hard to portray New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov as a serious candidate for the Russian presidency. Never mind that Prokhorov is polling around 5 percent, or that democracy in Russia is about as real as Vladimir Putin's collection of scuba diving videos. Putin, by the way, is also a candidate for president. The cynical view is that Prokhorov is in the race to soak up protest votes from Putin's legit opposition. If you don't at least entertain the possibility, then I have a bridge in Khimki to sell you.
Ah, but Prokhorov is "gaining momentum," the Times informs us, several paragraphs before reassuring us that Prokhorov is "fundamentally unelectable as a billionaire playboy." OK, fine. But how does Prokhorov intend to prove he's not just some pawn in a rigged system?
Mr. Krasovsky, the campaign manager, dismissed this assertion, saying the campaign has in fact shown some of its claws.
The campaign slogan, for example, is "Demand more," nominally a reference to Mr. Prokhorov's goals for the economy.
But Mr. Krasovsky said it also hinted not so subtly that his candidate's stature is notably larger than Russia's current leaders: 6-foot-8, compared with Mr. Putin at 5-foot-7, or the current president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, at 5-foot-2.
"He is physically larger," Mr. Krasovsky said. "He looks good in a crowd."
Elect Prokhorov: He has no chance, but at least he looks like he should.
Prokhorov Is a New Kind of Russian Candidate: a Billionaire [New York Times]