Yegor Gaidar, the intellectual force behind Russia’s "shock therapy” "conomic reforms of the 1990s, passed away on December 16 at the age of 53.
While still only in his mid-30s, Gaidar launched a wave of hugely important privatization reforms as a key adviser to then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin, starting in 1992. The success and legacy of these reforms are still fiercely debated. Some say they saved the country in the long-term, but the immediate dislocation and economic turmoil that they ignited earned Gaidar the lasting enmity of many rank-and-file Russians.
In his later years, Gaidar published a book warning Russia to reverse its Putin-era nostalgia for the Communist era. Published first in Russian, and in English by Brookings in 2007, the book explained why he was convinced that the Soviet economic system was unsustainable and doomed to fail from the start rather than a potentially successful form ruined by individual policies or a few inadequate officials. The Putin regime even seemed to be pursuing some of the same strategies that had essentially bankrupted the Soviet states, such as relying disproportionately on volatile energy markets to float other parts of an economy more fragile than many wanted to believe. In Collapse of an Empire, Gaidar implored his countrymen to save Russia by looking into the future rather than peering backward.
- Read more about Yegor Gaidar’s life and death.
- Learn more about Collapse of an Empire: Lessons for Modern Russia.