Yegor Gaidar was Boris Yeltsin’s Kamikaze economics minister, the one who came up with the 1991 programme to smash centralised planning and bring capitalism to Russia.
A year into the market economy, the Ruble had sunk and inflation had spiralled, state industries had collapsed, along with institutions like hospitals and schools, life expetancy had dropped to 59 years for the average male, and millions of Russians were on the streets, selling their pets and their shoes just to buy some bread.
Shock Therapy Capitalism was needed, Gaidar says, “to start building a country which had no borders, no army, no customs, no banking system with links to foreign economies, no clear-cut concept of citizenship, and no foreign trade management.”
Gaidar’s critics say that he just built a gangster economy, but as that economy grows, and with it, a middle class and a real center in Russian politics, Gaidar might just be ready for rehabilitation.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)