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Prokhorov ... for president ... of Russia?

Mikhail Prokhorov, one of Russia's richest tycoons and the owner of the Nets basketball team, said Monday he will run against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the March presidential election.

Prokhorov, whose wealth the Forbes magazine has estimated at $18 billion, has been cautious not to cross Putin's path in the past. But the tycoon's candidacy may now pose a serious challenge to Putin, whose authority has been dented by his party's poor showing in Russia's Dec. 4 parliamentary election and allegations of widespread fraud during the balloting.

Putin's party only won about 50 percent of that vote, compared to 64 percent four years ago, and the fraud allegations have allowed opposition parties to successfully mount massive anti-Putin protests in Russia.

"The society is waking up," Prokhorov said at the news conference he held in Moscow to announce his candidacy. "Those authorities who will fail to establish a dialogue with the society will have to go."

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