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Russian billionaire wins Internet fame with rap 

Russian billionaire and presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov speaks at his meeting with voters in Rostov-on-Don, about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) south of Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012.

MOSCOW (AP) — Just over a week before Russia’s presidential election, billionaire candidate Mikhail Prokhorov’s rapping skills have made him an Internet star.

Prokhorov, who shares ownership of the New Jersey Nets basketball team with U.S. rapper Jay-Z, took to the microphone on a Russian television show two weeks ago.

On Thursday, a YouTube video of his performance was widely circulated on Twitter by rap fans, sports writers and young Russians charmed by somber-faced Prokhorov’s rare moment of silliness.

His performance was a marked contrast to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s campaign rally the same day, at which he delivered a patriotic address to tens of thousands of people in a football stadium.

Putin is all but certain to win the March 4 election as four other contenders, including Prokhorov, are trailing far behind. Only 6 percent of respondents said they would vote for Prokhorov, according to polling results released Friday by Russia’s leading independent polling company.

Prokhorov is a newcomer to the political stage and the only challenger who is not a veteran party leader. For many Russians, the 46-year-old bachelor businessman with an estimated fortune of $18 billion is an intriguing fresh face in the race.

His candidacy has been viewed as a Kremlin-approved effort to add legitimacy to the election and channel public discontent highlighted by massive protest rallies.


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