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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'New Name's but Few New Ideas

The biggest splash Russia's Future-New Names has made in the campaign so far was popping open a bottle of champagne and then enjoying the bubbly on national television.


With that theatrical gesture aside, this party of younger political leaders has done little to distinguish itself from the other 12 parties seeking seats in the Russian parliament.


The party is big on slogans, and if you press hard enough, they will even come up with a new idea or two. These include plans to create alternative service for youth who do not want to go into the army, tax incentives for factories which clean up the environment, and cutbacks of the government bureaucracy.


For the party's critics, however, it merely represents old wine in new bottles.


Its members prefer simple slogans to detailed policy discussions, and favor a strong government role in key industries like oil and gas. They spout hazy slogans like "society should have priority over the government" or "national-government interests are a priority".


Yet Russia's Future-New Names can claim to have the youngest team in the Dec. 12 ballot. Most of its candidates are 30-something, and they make the most of their youthfulness.


"The older generation of politicians just do not know how to do things differently", said Vyacheslav Lashchevsky, 33, the party leader. New Names "means people who can do things differently, who can create stability".


Even though they assert that they are the genuine party of change, many of the party leaders have rather traditional backgrounds. Lashchevsky is a former Communist Party member and leader of the Komsomol, the Communist youth organization. Several other party leaders, including Alexander Kerimov, Oleg Sokolov and Irina Vinogradova, were associated with Alexander Rutskoi's Free Party of Russia.


They play down their past associations. Lashchevsky called the Komsomol "a sea of good things" that was distinct from the Communists. His colleagues also distance themselves from Rutskoi, who is now in prison for his role in the Oct. 3-4 uprising.


New Names is sponsoring a children's concert and a hockey game in coming days in their quest for support of young and apathetic voters. Still, they have only garnered 2 percent or so in recent polls, and they concede that they could well fall below the 5 percent barrier needed to gain seats in the new parliament.


"We are not sure we will succeed", Lashchevsky said. "But for us, these are not the last elections".