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Updated: December 16, 2009 21:13 IST

Yegor Gaidar, architect of Russian economic reforms, is dead

Vladimir Radyuhin
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Yegor Gaidar, an economic reformer who served as Russia's acting prime minister under Boris Yeltsin, died Wednesday, his aide said. He was 53. File photo: AP
AP Yegor Gaidar, an economic reformer who served as Russia's acting prime minister under Boris Yeltsin, died Wednesday, his aide said. He was 53. File photo: AP

Yegor Gaidar, the architect of Russia’s shock market reforms in the 1990s, has died aged 53.

His spokesman said Gaidar died of a blood clot early on Wednesday at his country house outside Moscow.

Gaidar launched the “shock therapy” economic reforms in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when he was serving as Acting Prime Minister under President Boris Yeltsin.

In his message of condolence President Dmitry Medvedev praised Mr. Gaidar’s honesty, integrity and courage in assuming “responsibility for unpopular but necessary reforms”.

Gaidar, however, was loathed by millions of Russians whose careers and lives were destroyed by his painful reforms. An academic economist, he dogmatically applied the teachings of Western liberal classics to heavily centralised post-Soviet economy.

His overnight lifting of price controls set off runaway inflation that wiped out the savings of millions of Russians. His attempt to make the statist economy play by the “swim-or-sink” rule destroyed much of Russia’s high-tech potential concentrated in the defence sector.

As a result of his reforms Russia’s industry contracted by half, per-capita incomes plunged by 75 per cent and the country headed for a demographic catastrophe, with its population shrinking by 7,00,000 every year.

After leaving government service in 1994, Gaidar continued to advise the Kremlin as head of the Institute of Transitional Economy he had set up.

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