Boris Nemtsov: Champion Of Nizhny's Rapid Reforms

BORIS NEMTSOV, the 34-year-old governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region, has occasionally been compared to President Clinton because of his youth and calls for meaningful reform. The following are excerpts from a July interview:

On President Yeltsin's recent political actions, including charges that he is reverting to his Communist Party roots and using authoritarian methods to further reform:

Life experience ... leaves a certain mark on a person. But the most important thing is Yeltsin's commitment toward private property and economic freedom. These ideas are already indelible. It's not as if he'll wake up tomorrow and say, `Privatization is a bad thing, I was joking, and let's go backward.' All his other actions are of a purely personal nature and do not affect the general situation.

[As for] the manner in which he fights with his opponents, using Communist methods, ... he uses everything at his disposal.

On the future of economic reform:

It's all connected to the political battle [in Moscow.]

On Russia competing for world markets:

We should by no means permit the prices on energy [oil, gas, etc.] to reach the world level.... The fundamental problem here in Russia is to keep the prices of raw materials lower than world prices. We'd become a cheap country with cheap labor and finished goods lower in quality but easier to export.... [Introducing] world prices [as in the West] would mean the death of Russia. This country would collapse upon itself. It would be expensive, poor, and unqualified.

On choosing between German and American models of capitalism.

There will be a Russian path [of development.] In Germany, it's easier to live than in America; there's less competition and more social protection.... If we had had a German upbringing or a Japanese upbringing, we could have thought about their models. But due to the lack of all this, we'll be closer to the wild, chaotic version of a free market [as in the US].

For our people it would be better to have the German model. There are socialist traditions and a sense of egalitarianism so that there isn't a large polarization between rich and poor. But ... we have far fewer chances [to realize this model.] This could become a source of [civil] conflict.

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