Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

The Legacy of Boris Nemtsov

Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

The Legacy of Boris Nemtsov

Article excerpt

When I studied international relations at Nizhny Novgorod State University in 1999/2000, Boris Nemtsov had already left the city, having been appointed first deputy premier minister of the Russian Federation. While he served as governor of Nizhny Novgorod between 1991 and 1997, the region became a "laboratory of reform." Beloved by international investors and Western politicians, his liberal reforms were often chaotic, but brought the region significant economic growth. I did internships in different departments of the regional administration during my year there and still met Nemtsov's slowly dying ghost almost everywhere. Many young and well educated Russians, who had been appointed during Nemtsov's two terms, were still there and tried to fight with the old bureaucrats, who had no interest in reforms, efficient structures or transparency.

But this young generation was leaving, with many going abroad. Nemtsov's laboratory was slowly killing off all the hopes of the young, well trained people with international experience. As a member of the team working with liberal economist Anatoly Chubais, he also had to resign his position in the government following the crash of the Russian stock market in August 1998. The experiment was over. Nemtsov became one of the leading opposition politicians in the Putin era. As a former deputy prime minister, he was part of the Russian elite. That was the reason why Nemtsov was able to say and do things which other opposition politicians were never able to do without being sanctioned by the regime. His protection (krysha) ended on 27 February 2015.

Nemtsov stood for the group of the sometimes naive young reformers of the 1990s who really wanted to change Russia for the better. …

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