On July 4, 2021 the On July 4, the congress of the All-Russian "New People" political party nominated its list of candidates for the upcoming September 19, 2021, elections to the Russian State Duma. Topping the list were the billionaire cosmetics magnate Aleksey Nechaev and the former Yakutsk mayor, Sardana Avksentieva. When the party was formed in 2020, in an interview with Novaya Gazeta, Nechaev, queried why he expected his party would be able to compete freely, responded that if he served the country constructively nobody would be able to pose obstacles. Indeed, the party has hewn to constructive consensus issues such as improving conditions in ecology, employment, road conditions. While New People will reveal its platform only in August the party has steered a legalistic course, for example, on unauthorized protest actions. Nechaev stated in the aforementioned interview: " As I understand it, the security forces are firmly against the unsanctioned protest. I do not support the fact that the Administrative Code regulates the constitutional right of people to assemble. But as a lawyer, I say that if the Administrative Code regulates this, let's abide by it. Let's fix this when we come to the State Duma. But we will not cross the line of unauthorized [protest]."
The party is definitely acting like a national player despite its youth and already in 2020 it came second only to United Russia in terms of campaign spending. Organizationally, it has opened headquarters nationwide. The party is appealing to sectors of the electorate that are showing dissatisfaction with United Russia: small business, the young, the regions and minority nationalities. In general, it seeks to strike a contrast with the established parties as more approachable and less pompous.
The following report will present the sources of the party's electoral potential and suspicions created by its unmolested appearance on the political stage.
New People Party Logo
The party's top two candidates are Nechaev and Sardana Avksentieva. As opposed to Russia's oligarchs whose fortunes were built on control of Russia's natural resources allocated to them by the state, Nechaev's fortune as the founder of Faberlic cosmetics was a product of his own business acumen. He intends to replicate his success across Russia. He claims enthusiasm for the idea: "We are used to the fact that there is a customer for education. And this customer is the state, which decides what to teach children. But it doesn't have to be that way. The customer is the parents and the pupils themselves, schoolchildren and students. And they tell us they want to learn entrepreneurship. At the same time, the system does not respond to this."
New People founder Aleksey Nechaev canvasses for votes (Source: Gazeta.ru)
Sardana Avksentieva is a poster child for the party's message. In 2018, she defeated United Russia's candidate and became mayor of Yakutsk. At the start of her tenure she fired a top official for conducting a tender for municipal banquets. All such events were then cancelled. She cancelled an agreement with a contractor who was paving asphalt on top of snow. She was one of the few officials to slash government expenses.
Avksentieva also instituted a new style for a public official: "When she was mayor, Avksentieva did not look like an "official," but like an ordinary woman of her age, education and social status. Her wardrobe was moderately democratic, moderately tailored. She wore suits as well as dresses, bright colors, patterned fabric and elements of traditional Yakutsk garb. But she didn't wear the brands and wildly expensive clothes that usually make it clear that the mayor — or other official — belongs to a completely different social class than the voters. Additionally, in a rarity for a number two on the ticket she is both a woman and a member of one of Russia's indigenous peoples.
At the convention Avksentieva offered the gathering the same message that had endeared her to Yakutsk. "Recently, I see that there are a lot of 'cosmonauts' in our country. Of course, I am talking about officials. They have turned into 'cosmonauts,' who got detached from earth and observe us through the 'porthole' of their expensive cars and palaces, while [ordinary] people confront their troubles alone."
Sardana Avksentieva (Source: Realnoevremya.ru)
In the pandemic, state employees suffered less economically, but small businesses felt that they were on their own. New People hopes to tap into their sense of resentment. Entrepreneur Alexander Davankov of St. Petersburg, who is contesting a seat in the Duma for New People claimed back in 2020 : We have specific goals that the party wants to achieve. We do not ask for money, we do not promise money. We say - give us the opportunity to work and earn. The number of people who receive salaries from outside the budget in Russia is about 58%. They need to be protected. We need to fight for them with the authorities, so that enterprises are not closed, and people are not left without means of subsistence.
The party has tried to live up to its name and attract and promote new people. For example, in Sverdlovsk the party is running Yaroslav Borodin, an actor, TV journalist and social activist in the community. In his election program, the candidate for deputy is going to make his main focus on solving problems that bear directly on the constituents such as ecology, road repairs and employment.
Psychologist Cleopatra Orlova was selected for the elections via the "#Debatecandidates" project, a reality show run by the party that took 30 contestants from across Russia "without a criminal record and political experience". The participants underwent training and were tested. The competition was then broadcast on the social networks. Orlova will run in Moscow.
A Party That Provides Needed Services
As part of its constructive approach, New People is trying to provide services that the system is not providing. In St. Petersburg, a campaign to save the Novaya River in the Kirovsky District has begun but the cleanup of the contaminated reservoir needs both money and working hands. The call for help by environmental activists was answered by the New People party.
The New People party has launched a chat portal that will help get free legal aid, advice on raising children and organize the delivery of food to the elderly, as well as help in hospitals and boarding schools. Consultations are provided by doctors, psychologists, teachers and lawyers. 
A Party Open To Youth
A description of the party's congress typifies its youthful spirit "It's certainly true that the congress participants, from party leaders to candidates, don't look anything like the members of United Russia. First of all, there are a lot of young people. Second, they look good: modern clothes, stylish hair, friendly smiles. Some of them are wearing mint-green clothes, the signature color of New People, chosen because it is the color of youth, energy and, of course wealth."
New People uses its business approach as a magnet for youth. In Ufa, with the party's support, a business club for high school and university students was opened. The party is confident that even schoolchildren can create successful business projects if they are taught the basics of entrepreneurship from school, and not just by theoretical teachers, but by businessmen who have built their business from scratch. At the party's regional headquarters new entrepreneurs and businessmen with extensive experience met with the young business enthusiasts.
The New People party leader, Aleksey Nechaev, met with bloggers to discuss the concerns of young content creators. At the meeting the party announced, the launch of the party tiktok house.
"Politics is a delicate process," stressed Alexey Nechaev. "If political bloggers have a balanced position, if a blogger shows different points of view on society's problems, this only works for him, and attracts an audience."
New People canvassers (Source: New People press service)
A Party That Will Empower The Regions
Avksentieva is not only a top-tier candidate, but she is Nechaev's advisor on Russia's regions. In a recent interview she charged that the federal center takes the fattest taxes leaving local government with only minor taxation. The federal center takes everything and like the lord of the manor distributes as it sees fit. Instead of helping the poorest regions the center rewards the best performing regions.
Too Good To Be True
Not everybody is pleased with New People's arrival on the political scene. Some see the Kremlin's acquiescence to the new party as an attempt to fragment the opposition. There are already cases of defections from other systemic opposition parties.
In Perm, the regional branch of the New People party nominated Elena Zakharova, a deputy of the regional parliament from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, to run for the Legislative Assembly of the Perm Territory. Zakharova is not the only example. Also, in Perm, Daria Eisfeld quit the Socialist-Revolutionary Party. Denis Shitov is no longer United Russia, and Alexei Gushchin has left the ranks of the liberals. All of them became New People party candidates.
The imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his closest allies have criticized New People for stealing their anti-corruption rhetoric while serving as a tool of the Kremlin, New People helps create an illusion of opposition and a functioning multiparty electoral system in the State Duma elections, and this is a distortion of reality.
Economist Mikhail Delyagin claims that "spoiler" parties like New People help the Kremlin game the electoral system. As United Russia's share of the vote goes down the party's share of seats in the Duma has only increased. The system allows United Russia to scoop up the votes of parties that fail to cross the electoral threshold: "They are spreading the voices of those dissatisfied with the government's policies across a large number of groups that simply do not have a chance to fight for victory. The votes cast for them are distributed proportionally among the parties that overcome the 5% threshold - and basically go to the party that has the most votes."
Under a banner reading "to the elections" Putin delights in the new parties manufactured by the presidential administration. (Source: Politinformator.ru)
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