Gaidar in 2008
|Prime Minister of Russia|
15 June 1992 - 15 December 1992
|First Deputy||Vladimir Shumeyko|
|Boris Yeltsin (Acting)|
|First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia|
18 September 1993 - 20 January 1994
2 March 1992 - 15 December 1992
|Minister of Finance|
11 November 1991 - 2 April 1992
Yegor Timurovich Gaidar
19 March 1956
Moscow, Russia, Soviet Union
|Died||16 December 2009 (aged 53)|
|Political party||Union of Rightist Forces (2001-2008)|
Democratic Choice (1994-2001)
|Spouse(s)||Irina Smirnova (div.) |
|Children||3; including Maria|
|Alma mater||Lomonosov Moscow State University|
Yegor Timurovich Gaidar (Russian: ? ?; pronounced [j?'?or t'mur?vt? j'dar]; 19 March 1956 - 16 December 2009) was a Soviet and Russian economist, politician, and author, and was the Acting Prime Minister of Russia from 15 June 1992 to 14 December 1992.
He was the architect of the controversial shock therapy reforms administered in Russia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which brought him both praise and harsh criticism. He participated in the preparation of the Bialowieza agreements. Many Russians held him responsible for the economic hardships that plagued the country in the 1990s that resulted in mass poverty and hyperinflation among other things, although liberals praised him as a man who did what had to be done to save the country from complete collapse.Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, who advised the Russian government in the early 1990s, called Gaidar "the intellectual leader of many of Russia's political and economic reforms" and "one of the few pivotal actors" of the period.
Gaidar was born in 1956 in Moscow, RSFSR, Soviet Union, the son of Ariadna Bazhova and Pravda military correspondent Timur Gaidar, who fought in the Bay of Pigs Invasion and was a friend of Raúl Castro. His paternal grandfather was Soviet writer Arkady Gaidar and his maternal grandfather was writer Pavel Bazhov. Gaidar married the daughter of writer Arkady Strugatsky during his time at the university. His daughter, Maria Gaidar, was one of the leaders of the Russian democratic opposition. From July 2009 till June 2011 she was Deputy Chair of the Government of Kirov oblast. Since July 2015 she is a vice-governor of Odessa Oblast in Ukraine.
Gaidar graduated with honors from the Moscow State University, Faculty of Economics, in 1978 and worked as a researcher in several academic institutes. A long-time member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and an editor of the CPSU ideological journal Communist during the perestroika, he joined Boris Yeltsin's camp during Perestroika. In 1991 he quit the Communist Party and was promoted to Yeltsin's government.
While in government, Gaidar advocated free market economic reforms according to the principle of shock therapy. His best-known decision was to abolish price regulation by the state, which immediately resulted in a major increase in prices and amounted to officially authorizing a market economy in Russia. He also cut military procurement and industrial subsidies, and reduced the budget deficit. Gaidar was the First Vice-Premier of the Russian Government and Minister of Economics from 1991 until 1992, and Minister of Finance from February 1992 until April 1992.
He was appointed Acting Prime Minister under President Boris Yeltsin in 1992 from 15 June until 14 December, when the anti-Yeltsin Russian Congress of People's Deputies refused to confirm Gaidar in this position and Viktor Chernomyrdin was eventually chosen as a compromise figure. Gaidar continued to advise the new government. On 18 September 1993, he was again appointed the First Vice-Premier under Chernomyrdin as a deliberate snub to the opposition. He played an active role in the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993.
On 3 October, he famously spoke live on Russian television, then broadcasting from an emergency station near Moscow, as there was fighting going on in the Ostankino complex, calling on Muscovites to gather to defend Yeltsin's government so that Russia would not be "turned into an enormous concentration camp for decades".
In the 1993 Duma elections, in the aftermath of the crisis, Gaidar led the pro-government bloc Russia's Choice and was seen by some as a possible future Prime Minister. However, due to the bloc's failure to win the plurality of votes in the election, Gaidar's role in the government diminished and he finally resigned on 20 January 1994.
Gaidar was often criticized for imposing ruthless reforms in 1992 with little care for their social impact; however, it has to be understood that the country back then was at the brink of a famine. Russia had no currency for buying import goods, at the same time, no-one gave credits as the country was essentially bankrupt. The collapse of the Soviet social system led to serious deterioration in living standards. Millions of Russians were thrown into poverty due to their savings being devalued by massive hyperinflation. Moreover, the privatization and break-up of state assets left over from the Soviet Union, which he played a big part in, led to much of the country's wealth being handed to a small group of powerful business executives, later known as the Russian oligarchs, for much less than what they were worth. The voucher privatization program enabled these few oligarchs to become billionaires specifically by arbitraging the vast difference between old domestic prices for Russian commodities and the prices prevailing on the world market. Because they stashed billions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts rather than investing in the Russian economy, these oligarchs were dubbed "kleptocrats." As society grew to despise these figures and resent the economic and social turmoil caused by the reforms, Gaidar was often held by Russians as one of the men most responsible. On the other hand, the ubiquitous goods deficit of the Soviet years disappeared and it became to be possible to buy all goods in the shops. Per capita calorie consumption under Gaidar diminished by 3.5% from 2526.88 kCal to 2438.17 kCal.
According to Franklin Foer writing in The Atlantic, however, "when Yegor Gaidar ... asked the United States for help hunting down the billions that the KGB had carted away, the White House refused."
One of Gaidar's most outspoken critics was the Yabloko economist and MP Grigory Yavlinsky, who had proposed since 1990 a 500 Days programme for the transition of the whole USSR to market economic, which was first backed and then dismissed by the government of Nikolai Ryzhkov. Yavlinsky emphasized the differences between his and Gaidar's reforms program, such as the sequencing of privatization vs. liberalization of prices and the applicability of his program to the entire Soviet Union.
Gaidar's supporters contend that although many mistakes were made, he had few choices in the matter and ultimately saved the country both from bankruptcy and from starvation. According to the BBC's Andrei Ostalski, "There were only two solutions--either introduce martial law and severe rationing, or radically liberalize the economy. The first option meant going all the way back to the Stalinist system of mass repression. The second meant a colossal change, a journey--or, rather, a race--through uncharted waters with an unpredictable outcome."
Gaidar died at the age of 53 in Odintsovo raion, Moscow Oblast, Russia. Gaidar's aide Valery Natarov stated that Gaidar died unexpectedly, early on 16 December 2009, at his Moscow Oblast home while he was working on a book for children. Gaidar died of pulmonary edema, provoked by myocardial ischemia. He is survived by his wife, three sons and daughter.
Former associates acknowledged Gaidar as an object of loathing among ordinary Russians who lost everything during the economic liberalization. However, many Russian citizens praised Gaidar as a man who averted greater catastrophes. "He stood before the choice of civil war or painful reforms", Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister under Yeltsin, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station. "He gave his life to avert civil war."
Anatoly Chubais, the minister responsible for privatization in the early 1990s, who considers himself a friend of Gaidar, praised Gaidar as Russia's "savior". "It was Russia's huge good fortune that in one of the worst moments in its history it had Yegor Gaidar. In the early 1990s he saved the country from famine, civil war and disintegration", Chubais wrote in his blog. "Few people in the history of Russia and in world history can be compared with him for force of intellect, clarity of understanding of the past, present and future, and a willingness to take the most difficult but necessary decisions", wrote Chubais.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has expressed condolences to relatives and friends of Yegor Gaidar. Medvedev called Gaidar a "daring, honest and decisive" economist who "evoked respect among his supporters and opponents." Gaidar was a brave, honest, and determined man, who "assumed responsibility for unpopular but essential measures in a period of radical change," the president said.
"The death of Gaidar is a heavy loss for Russia," says Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. "We have lost a genuine citizen and patriot, a strong spirited person, a talented scientist, writer and expert.... He didn't dodge responsibility and 'took the punch' in the most challenging situations with honor and courage," the statement said.
The White House offered condolences over Gaidar's death. Although controversial, Gaidar's legacy formed the foundation of a dynamic market-based economy and is destined to live on, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said. Hammer described him as a top-notch intellectual, a true Russian patriot and a leading brain behind Russia's political and economic reforms in the past two decades.
In honor of Yegor Gaidar, each year in mid-January the Russian Presidency holds a conference that attracts the Russian political and business elite, with top European politicians also attending. The 2014 Forum was hosted by Dmitry Medvedev, with presentations by former Czech President Václav Klaus, former Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, and former Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Simeon Djankov. The Gaidar Forum is organized the week before Davos and thus also serves to formulate the Russian positions on a variety of topics.