Published On: Fri, Sep 16th, 2016

Former Russian oil tycoon and Putin rival Mikhail Khodorkovsky Launches Contest to Find Putin Alternative

Mikhail Khodorkovsky is searching for a ‘single, strong opposition candidate’ to challenge President Putin in the 2018 Russian election.

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With just a week to go until parliamentary elections, the former head of Russia’s Yukos Oil Company, and prospective Putin rival, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has launched an online contest to demonstrate that amongst the 145 million Russian people there can be serious opposition figures who could potentially challenge Vladimir Putin for the leadership of the country in the 2018 presidential election

The “Instead of Putin” website was launched on September 12th in the Russian language. Russians can vote for one of 12 political candidates. Every Russian can suggest their preferred presidential candidate to the website. The final candidate will then be determined by a vote on the site and by the decision of its expert group. Khodorkovsky says he will support whoever wins in a campaign for presidency. reports that “currently, the potential candidates are mainly represented on the website by well-known opposition politicians, such as popular blogger Alexei Navalny and the head of the liberal Yabloko party, Grigory Yavlinsky. However, there are also figures who are almost unknown to the general public, such as historian Ivan Kurilla from Volgograd.”

So far, the site’s most popular candidates is Alexei Navalny, a lawyer and charismatic anti-corruption activist who is considered a central opposition figure and former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin.

Opposition activist Vladimir Milov, one of the key figures behind the project told RBTH “Khodorkovsky is quite an authoritative man in opposition circles.” He said that Khodorkovsky himself cannot run as a candidate, since he is not currently a Russian resident.

In an interview with the RBC online newspaper Khodorkovsky said that the idea behind this project is not necessarily to identify a presidential ‘candidate’ specifically only for the upcoming elections.

“He may come to power as a result of sudden changes, ” said the former head of Yukos, without elaborating on what kind of changes in the political environment he had in mind.


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