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In an apparently unscripted exchange with reporters in Kursk last Thursday, Mikhail Prokhorov corrected the earlier impression he had given a fortnight before that, if elected by Russian voters in December at the head of the Right Cause party, he may not take his seat in parliament.

However, the garble reported by Interfax adds to the unbelievability of Prokhorov’s first national election campaign even before the party’s convention has selected him; or the first public opinion poll has been taken with Russian voters.

Interfax has published this translation of Prokhorov’s promise to the voters this way: “I declare that I will quit business and will work in the State Duma 24 hours a day if the party wins the State Duma elections — and for some reason I do not doubt that I would.” That last clause appears to erase the impression Prokhorov is trying to convey in his first clause that he is serious about fulfilling the big conditional.

The Russian original of Prokhorov’s remark puts his qualification in a different place:

This should be translated as:

Either way, Prokhorov is giving the impression that he is anxious to please, but that until the day after the votes are counted, he is not in charge nor responsible for what happens. In an interview on Ekho Moskvy on May 25, he even hinted it will be a relief to him if the gambit fails. “A leader who has failed to cope with the task,” he said, “should leave. Explanations of the reason for failure — that’s not for me. There must be a result,” he said in response to the question of what would happen if the Right Cause party fails to make the 7% vote threshold, and is disqualified from taking a seat in the Duma.

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