The AP reports:

Russian tycoon and New Jersey Nets basketball team owner Mikhail Prokhorov was confirmed Saturday as the new head of a Kremlin-friendly political party.

The 46-year-old billionaire was all but unanimously elected head of the Right Cause party by its members.

Right Cause is seen as a Kremlin creation designed to lure opposition-minded, pro-business voters, while building an illusion of competition with the ruling United Russia party ahead December’s parliamentary elections.

Prokhorov said last month he was targeting second place in that vote.

President Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday that Russia needs more political competition, but the Justice Ministry made a mockery of that only days later when it denied registration to a real opposition party.