Russia's Donald Trump or government puppet? Pavel Grudinin is sure he will defeat Vladimir Putin

26 January 2018, 17:32

He is a millionaire several times over and claims to represent the forgotten people of his country.

He also wants to root out corruption among its elites.

Sound familiar? You could call Pavel Grudinin Russia's answer to Donald Trump.

After making a fortune out of real estate, Mr Grudinin is now taking on Vladimir Putin in Russia's presidential election.

While everyone has written off his chances, he is adamant he is going to win.

He even compares himself to The Donald.

"There are sceptics everywhere here and in your country," he told a press conference in Moscow on Friday.

"For example, someone said Trump couldn't win. And look what happened."

There are a few glaring differences, however.

Mr Grudinin did not inherit his fortune. He made it himself working from the shop floor then up to management at a privatised state farm.

And he is running as a communist.

He is also accused of being a government puppet - a claim that could never have been levelled at Mr Trump during his election campaign.

For many, Russia's upcoming election is seen as a sham.

Real contenders, like the anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, are not allowed to run.

When I asked Mr Grudinin if he is really just an actor in a play written by the Kremlin, he insisted he is in it to win it.

"Even the most difficult to win battle you can win," he said.

"I am completely sure that if everyone will go to the elections we will win them."

He has quite a mountain to climb. A month to go and his support is still languishing in single figures.

The Russian government controls the media and, to some extent, even the opinion polls.

If Mr Trump was aided and abetted by the Russian president, as is alleged, Mr Grudinin can expect the opposite if he even begins to look like a threat.