With Russia entering a massive conflict with the West, we were curious where our own favorite Russian oligarch, Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, stood on the Ukraine.
But in the past Prokhorov has differed from Putin on the Ukraine. For instance, in December he suggested a national referendum in the Ukraine, letting the people decide whether to affiliate economically with the West (the big issue that prompted the uprising and invasion). Prokhorov seemed to think that trading with the West is both inevitable and good. Conversely, Putin wants the Ukraine to ally with the former Soviet nations.
We found no comments from Prokhorov since the Russian invasion of the Crimea, but in an earlier interview, he scoffed at the idea that an alliance of formerly communist nations might be better than hitching their cart to Western Europe:
Russia needs allies in Europe. Ukraine is ‘our people’… For 20 years we have been trying to put together the pieces of the broken Soviet Union and… nothing. After all these years we should know better. Our reunion path goes through All-European mechanisms. Europe is a value choice for both Moscow and Kyiv. It is more solid platform than the nostalgia for USSR.
Later in the same interview, to show his affinity for Ukrainians, he told a bizarre story about being a fairy Godfather to a struggling Ukrainian woman:
“On the occasion of the opening of Kyiv branch of our bank in 1995 we had a party. In the end we all ended up in my hotel room. When the party was over and people started leaving I saw a girl standing alone. I was tired and was going to sleep, so I simply asked ‘Who are you?’ She said: ‘I was invited but then they left. I’ll be going now, have to grab a taxi.’ Well, word after word we started a conversation. I found out she was a single mom from Kyiv renting an apartment because she did not have enough money to buy her own. And then, just like that, I said: ‘Do you believe in fairy tales?’ She stared back at me, a little bit freaked. ‘No’. Then I took out a pack of banknotes and gave her a half.
The most interesting that after some time my new unexpected friend invited me to her housewarming party and wedding. With her own apartment she was back on the market and a groom did not make her wait long. So, yes, I personally took part in the fortune of one Ukrainian citizen.”