Book Review: Gaidar's Revolution

Chris Miller's review of Gaidar's Revolution by Petr Aven and Alfred Kokh, for Read Russia

Alexei Golovkov had a problem with the portrait of Lenin in his office. Golovkov, a top official in Boris Yeltsin’s presidential administration from 1991-1993, thought the Lenin portrait was out of place in post-Communist Russia, so he took it off the wall and set it in the back room of his office. The next day a new Lenin portrait appeared. He took that one down, too, only to find a third portrait the following morning. “What’s this?” he asked an assistant. “The manual says you must have a portrait,” the assistant explained. “You have the right to take it down, but I must hang up a new one.”

Yeltsin and his ministers struggled to rid Russia of the legacies of communism, but—like Lenin portraits hanging on the walls of government offices—reminders of the Soviet past were difficult to discard. A book by Petr Aven and Alfred Kokh, Gaidar’s Revolution, newly translated into English, looks back at the 1990s to assess why the goals of the pro-capitalist forces proved so difficult to realize. 

chris miller