The Russian economist and reform politician Yegor Gaidar suddenly passed away on December 16, at the age of 53. The son of an admiral entered Russian history and world politics in the early nineties, as the brief prime minister of the Yeltsin government that was about to get the post Soviet economy back on its feet after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
This granted him the admiration of the world but hardly the love of the people. The so called shock therapy, associated with the visiting economist and colleagues Anders Åslund and Jeffrey Sachs, implied a necessary but brutal transition from the waste of the planned economy to market economic principles. However, contrary to the common belief among senior Soviet officials and the aims of Mikhail Gorbachev, it soon turned out that the Soviet economy was so dysfunctional that reform was beyond reach.
The break from the old was crucial to the rescue team. However, the immediate positive effects were scarce. In addition, the liberalization was further restrained by the still communistically dominated political establishment around Yeltsin. Due to the long dictatorship there was an imminent lack of entrepreneurs who could have been able to shoulder a renewal. Instead, Oligarchs and corruption flourished. (more…)