Irina Hakamada, who was born in 1955, holds a PhD in economics. A well-known politician, in 1997 she headed the Governmental Committee on Small Business Support. Elected to the State Duma, she has been its deputy chairperson since 2000. Irina participated in the work of the UN General Assembly Session in 2002. She is co-chairperson of the Russian Public Council on Education Development and head of the charitable fund “Vale Hospice International.” She is now a leader of a new democratic party, Nash Vybor, and focuses her activities on promoting the ideals of civil society in Russia.
In 2004 Irina Hakamada ran for the presidency. This was a time when, after the defeat of all the liberal forces of the country in the parliamentary elections of the previous year, many people were anticipating the decline of democratic values in Russia. Irina addressed the people with the clear message that they should not be afraid. She recognized it was necessary to admit that Russian democratic politicians had made mistakes, but at the same time stressed that people should not become disillusioned. She called for promoting the ideals of civil society and democracy. She endorsed the creation of a new democratic party capable of opposing the autocratic tendencies in the country. The party was based on a grassroots movement with a special phone center where citizens could express their views on Russian society's most urgent and serious problems. The project was called “Modern Power for Modern People.” An analysis of the information obtained provided input for the Nash Vybor ("Our Choice") party program, which aimed at formulating a model for Russia's future development. The project proved that all the old myths about Russian society being conservative, non-progressive, and Byzantine did not correspond to reality. The new generation of Russians wants to live in a free society with opportunities for personal and professional development. That is why Irina's platform to transform Russia into a modern democratic society is based not on trying to change the people, but rather on changing the power wielded by the authorities ever-ready to resort to propaganda. Irina declares that she wants Russia to become a country where all citizens can live with dignity, where they will not to be afraid of being persecuted by the authorities for their beliefs, where they will enjoy equal opportunities, and where human life will be the primary concern.