Russian politician who became hate figure for 'shock therapy' tactics

Yegor Gaidar: YEGOR GAIDAR, who has died aged 53, was a Russian politician regarded by his detractors as the destroyer of the…

Yegor Gaidar:YEGOR GAIDAR, who has died aged 53, was a Russian politician regarded by his detractors as the destroyer of the country's economy following the collapse of communism. He was seen by supporters as the man who saved Russia from economic catastrophe and civil war.

He was born into a prominent family of the nomenklatura, the communist establishment that enjoyed a privileged lifestyle with special shops containing western goods and special health clinics.

The fortunes of the Gaidar family began with his grandfather, Arkady Golikov, a children’s writer who changed his name to Gaidar in honour of one of his fictional characters, Timur Gaidar.

Timur heroically led a team of children in hunting down those evil class enemies of the system: the bourgeoisie. The stories of Timur and his Team became Russia’s equivalent of The Famous Five.


Yegor Gaidar’s father followed in the communist tradition as a Soviet admiral and Yegor himself, at least initially, was a loyal party member and editor of the ideological publication Kommunist.

In 1991, though, he left the Communist Party and joined the administration of Boris Yeltsin.

He became first deputy prime minister in 1991, was finance minister for a time in 1992 and later acting prime minister until he was replaced in December of that year by Viktor Chernomyrdin.

In essence, 1992 was Gaidar’s year. In consultation with Harvard economics professor Jeffrey Sachs, he applied so-called shock therapy to the Russian economy at the beginning of that year. The plan was that the lifting of price controls would encourage competition and quickly turn Russia into a successful market economy.

For many ordinary Russians, though, particularly the elderly, the immediate effect was the destruction of their standard of living. At the same time, many of Gaidar’s friends became billionaires.

Gaidar quickly became a hate figure. His privileged position ensured he would not suffer personally and this, allied to his communist past, created the popular image of an apparatchik implementing new policy with Bolshevik ruthlessness. His economic expertise was widely recognised in the West where he was an honorary professor at the University of California Berkeley and a lecturer at Duke University.

Yegor Timurevich Gaidar: born March 19th, 1956; died December 16th, 2009.