Gaidar, Yegor Timurovich

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(b. 1956), economist, prime minister.

The public face of shock therapy, Yegor Timurovich Gaidar was a soft-spoken economist who, at the age of thirty-six, became prime minister in the turbulent first year of Boris Yeltsin's administration. He came from a prominent family: his father was Pravda' s military correspondent, and his grandfather a war hero and author beloved by generations of Soviet children. Gaidar graduated from Moscow State University in 1980 with a thesis on the price mechanism, supervised by reform economist Stanislav Shatalin. He then worked as a researcher at the Academy of Sciences Institute of Systems Analysis. In 1983 he joined a commission on economic reform that advised General Secretary Yuri Andropov. In 1986, he formed an informal group, Economists for Reform, and from 1987 to 1990 he was an editor at the Communist Party journal Kommunism, under the reformist editor Otto Latsis. In 1990, he became a department head at Pravda and headed a new Institute of Economic Policy. Gaidar walked into the White House during the August coup and offered his services to Yeltsin aide Gennady Burbulis. With the support of the young democratic activists, Gaidar became a key player in Yeltsin's team, drafting his economic program and even the Belovezh accords, which broke up the Soviet Union. He later described himself as on a kamikaze mission to turn Russia into a market economy. As deputy prime minister (with Yeltsin serving as prime minister) and minister of finance and economics from November 1991, Gaidar oversaw the introduction of price liberalization

in January 1992. Russia experienced a burst of hyper-inflation, but formerly empty store shelves filled with goods. Communist and nationalist opposition leaders unfairly blamed the collapsing economy on Yeltsin's policies and Gaidar's ideas. Gaidar was appointed acting prime minister in June 1992, but the Congress of People's Deputies refused to approve his appointment in December. He left the government, returning as economics minister and first deputy prime minister in September 1993, in the midst of Yeltsin's confrontation with the parliament. At one point in the crisis Gaidar appealed to people over television to take to the streets to defend the government. Gaidar took part in the creation of a liberal, progovernment electoral bloc, Russia's Choice, but it lost to red-brown forces in the December 1993 parliamentary elections, winning just 15.5 percent of the party list vote. Gaidar left the government in January 1994, although he stayed on as leader of Russia's Choice in Parliament. At the same time, Gaidar became head of his own think tank, the Institute of Transition Economies. In the December 1995 elections he led the renamed Russia's Democratic Choice, which failed to clear the five percent threshold. He spoke out against the war in Chechnya, but supported Yeltsin in the 1996 election. During the later 1990s Gaidar served more as an author and commentator than as a front-rank politician. He defended his record, advocated more liberal reform, and pursued business and academic interests. He was again elected to the Duma in December 1999 as head of the Union of Right Forces, an umbrella group uniting most of the fractured liberal leaders. The bloc went on to offer conditional support to President Vladimir Putin.

See also: gorbachev, mikhail sergeyevich; perestroika; prime minister; privatization; shock therapy; yeltsin, boris nikolayevich


Gaidar, Yegor. (2000). Days of Defeat and Victory. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.

Peter Rutland