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Russia should join euro zone: top oligarch

(MOSCOW) - Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who has embarked on a political career, made a surprise call Thursday for Russia to adopt the euro, saying the bold move would "rescue" Europe.

"Russia should make a bold and strategic step closer to Europe: join the Schengen zone and the eurozone," he said at his first press conference since becoming the leader of the Right Cause party.

Creating a "greater Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok" will help Russia become a leading economy as well as "rescue European countries from bankruptcy," said Prokhorov.

Prokhorov has acquired a reputation of a financial soothsayer after he smoothly sold his stake in Norilsk Nickel miner in a multibillion dollar deal in April 2008 shortly before commodities prices collapsed.

Today he heads the Onexim Group conglomerate and is one of 50 richest people in the world, valued at $18 billion by Forbes magazine.

Although Prokhorov declined to elaborate on his party's exact agenda, he said that "Russia with its vast territory could accommodate many (European) enterprises".

Aside from business and politics the two metre-tall Prokhorov is involved in wide-ranging activities that include ownership of the New Jersey Nets, kickboxing, and investing into development of a hybrid car called Yo.

Prokhorov was hastily voted in as leader by Right Cause delegates in late June calling for economic reforms and announcing a bid to fight for a share of spots in the Russian parliament in the upcoming December elections.

However Right Cause's exposure on state television and presence of many giant billboards in Moscow with Prokhorov's face have fueled rumours that his political involvement has been masterminded in the Kremlin.

"Are you a Kremlin project?" a blunt reporter asked on Thursday.

"This is my decision. I always make all decisions myself," parried the confident Prokhorov.

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