Mikhail Prokhorov is running as an independent presidential candidate against Kremlin strongman Vladimir Putin and has publicly criticised the country's leadership, but even those credentials don't free him from suspicion that he's Putin's stooge.

Prokhorov is a billionaire oligarch - the country's third-richest man - and in Russia many believe the authorities would never allow a true challenger to emerge.

But Prokhorov is the only candidate running in the March 4 election who has attended one of Russia's recent pro-democracy protests, and he has crafted an appealing platform for reformist liberals, promising more free press and business and easier formation of political parties.

Al Jazeera's Rory Challands reports from Moscow.

Source: Aljazeera