World

Russian economic reformer dies

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

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

Gaidar's aide Valery Natarov told The Associated Press that Gaidar died unexpectedly, early Wednesday, at his Moscow-region home while he was working on a book.

Gaidar died of a a blood clot, Natarov said. No other details were immediately available.

Gaidar served under Yeltsin in the early 1990s and navigated the country through its painful post-Soviet transition to a market economy. He was acting prime minister for six months in 1992.

Gaidar was among a group of young liberal politicians in the 1990s who have in recent years been cast in a dubious light by Russia's current leadership as the architects of the decade's economic and political chaos.

Former associates acknowledged Gaidar as an object of loathing among ordinary Russians who lost everything during the economic liberalization, but they praised him as a man who averted greater catastrophe.

"He stood before the choice of civil war or painful reforms," Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister under Yeltsin, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station.

Years after leaving office, Gaidar fell ill on a book promotion trip to Ireland in November 2006, a few days after the poisoning death of former Russian security agent Alexander Litvinenko. Speculation was rife that Gaidar, too, was poisoned. After recovering he pointed the finger at unidentified enemies of the Kremlin.

Gaidar — whose trademark combover hairstyle gave him a striking appearance — was part of a renowned family. His grandfather, Arkady, was a famed Soviet author of children's books that remain popular to this day. His father, Timur, was a military reporter with the Soviet Pravda newspaper and fought in the Bay of Pigs invasion.

His daughter, Maria, is a liberal campaigner who has been arrested several times for taking part in anti-government rallies and now serves as an aide to Nikita Belykh, a regional governor.