Arkadi Gaydamak 88 298.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Billionaire businessman Arkadi Gaydamak announced Monday morning that he intended to run in the next Jerusalem mayoral elections.
"I have no doubt that the entire city will vote for me," the tycoon said in an interview with Yedioth Aharonot. "There's not one person who is not familiar today with Gaydamak and what he is capable of."
He went on to say that "Jerusalem is a symbol for the Jewish people and I plan to turn it into a symbol for peace and Judaism."
Gaydamak, who also owns the Beitar Jerusalem football team, announced his decision after Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski criticized the annual 'Veterans Parade' for the Russian veterans of World War II, which has been financed by the billionaire for the past three years.
The controversial philanthropist has in the past outspokenly criticized Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz for not focusing enough on social issues. He also embarrassed the government during the Second Lebanon War when he sent thousands of families from the North to a makeshift camp in Nitzanim and also used his own resources to help Sderot residents.
Gaydamak also financed a huge Independence Day celebration in Tel Aviv last week. Such largesse had prompted criticism that he uses his money to win support for a future political career.
The elections for the capital's mayor will be held in aproximately a year.