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Multibillionaire Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov on Tuesday urged the creation of a US-style two party political system in Russia, warning that otherwise the country faced mass protests and repression.
Russian politics is dominated by the ruling United Russia party that backs President Vladimir Putin, but its support has eroded in recent years and it faces an increasingly serious challenge from new figures like protest leader Alexei Navalny.
Prokhorov himself came third to Putin in 2012 presidential elections with almost eight percent of the vote, although his subsequent disappearance from the political scene led some analysts to question how serious his anti-Kremlin challenge was.
"To replace the one-party system that we have today, it is necessary to move on to a two party system," Prokhorov, the owner of Brooklyn Nets US basketball team, wrote in an article in the Vedomosti daily.
"Only this way can we keep the situation within the framework of the constitution and not allow it to slide to political repression on one side or mass protests on the other," he said.
Prokhorov said that his Civil Platform party which he leads was ready to be part of the move to a two party system and "be one of its key elements".
The Civil Platform earlier this month enjoyed one of its biggest successes when its candidate Yevgeny Roizman defeated an official backed by United Russia in elections for mayor of the Urals city of Yekaterinburg.
The nationwide local elections on September 8 were marked almost across Russia by a low turnout and Prokhorov said that United Russia had essentially come second to a majority who did not take part.
Prokhorov, who has major interests in the mining and banking sectors, is Russia's tenth richest man with assets totalling $13 billion, according to Forbes magazine.