The XI Gaidar Forum dedicated to topic “Russia and the World: Challenges of a New Decade” started in Moscow. Leading world scientists, politicians, representatives of financial community and global business elite will discuss global economic trends as well as current challenges of the new decade for two days at the RANEPA site.
The Forum opened with an expert discussion “Long time: 10 years in memory of Egor T. Gaidar” and participants, leading economists, former colleagues and associates of the reformer and founder of the Institute for Economy in Transition (in 2010 it was renamed into Institute for Economic Policy named after Egor T. Gaidar), discussed main outcomes of his scientific legacy. Experts underlined importance of Gaidar reforms for Russia and argued about his major role, whether he was more a theoretician or a practitioner?
Revold Entov, Academician of Russian Academy of Sciences, delivered a principal presentation. According to Entov, some people in Russia consider Gaidar a theoretician while in the West they recognize him as a practitioner, politician, to a major extent. Entov stated that both views have rationale and strengthened his thought by an example: in the 1990-s largescale economic reforms started not only in the USSR and Eastern European countries but in South-East Asia, Latin America as well. Speaker said: «Many books and articles appeared and their authors suggested their theoretic reform models. I told about them to Egor Timurovich and he listened attentively having commented once: theory is very beautiful in order to be implemented.”
Sergey Sinelnikov–Murylev, Academic Director of the Gaidar Institute, moderating discussion shared his memories. He said that Egor Gaidar was a scientist in the first place and only then a politician. Economist stated: “His memory was monumental, speed of thinking outstanding as well as speed of absorbing information”.
Entov-15.01.2020.jpgPeter Aven, Chairman of Alpha-Bank Board of Directors, expressed his opinion: “I share my admiration with Gaidar, he was a prominent reformer. I think that in Russian history he is on a par with Speransky, Stolypin and Vitte. He was a man of exclusive intelligence and courage”. However, according to Aven, he was not a scientist. At the same time, speaker agreed: “Probably, this does not refer to economic history, in particular, to “Collapse of Empire.”
Mikhail Dmitriev, Senior Researcher, Center of Public Policy and State Management, RANEPA School of Public Policy remembered outstanding analytical abilities of the theoretician of reforms and complained that nowadays nobody can assess current economic situation so clearly in Russia in order to provide a forecast for its strategic development.
Dmitriev said: “In my practical work I highly appreciated Gaidar’s ability to give clear specific characteristics of the changes that took place. His assessments made you to change your own concept of proceedings. As a rule, his assessments and interpretation were in fact most close to truth. When I dealt with reforms in the government late 1990-s and early 2000-s I frequently sought Gaidar’s advice, he was a kind of a GPS navigator for me, his feelings of where we were at the coordinate system have greatly changed my ideas about what can be done”.
World became absolutely different 10 years after Gaidar, added Mikhail Dmitriev. “Now we often react spontaneously to events without trying to integrate this process into strategy. Therefore, I often wonder, what would happen if Gaidar were alive and continued to evaluate reality? I think he could give us an idea of ​​what will happen in the future and what should be done,” said the expert.
According to Anatoly Chubais, Head of Rusnano, Gaidar was a scientist and this is proved by his theory of transition from socialism to capitalism, which no one could develop before. Gaidar’s works according to Chubais represent major academic papers comparable to works of, for example, Samuel Huntington (he studied theory of democracy and political modernization). For example, the same Gaidar predicted 15 years ago in his book “Long Time: Russia in the World” that this country would have to carry out pension reform, that is, increase the age of well-deserved retirement.
Other speakers also spoke about relevance of thoughts and accuracy of forecasts made by E. Gaidar. Thus, according to Alexander Auzan, Dean of the MSU Faculty of Economics, there are issues that Gaidar wrote about and which still remain relevant. In his later works, he indicated that an age shift would destroy all existing pension and insurance systems and now we are implementing pension reform and arranging insurance medicine. In general, according to Auzan, it would be wrong to talk unilaterally about Gaidar. “Gaidar in the beginning of the 1990s and Gaidar in 2009 are different people: he certainly was not stuck in the idea that changing politics we will change the country,” the expert said.
Aleksey Kudrin, Chairman of Accounts Chamber, noted relevance of Egor Gaidar thoughts that institutions absorbed resources in the late Soviet period for the sake of the very process of drawing funds, starting a large number of unfinished construction projects. According to Aleksey Kudrin, there are 2500 unfinished construction facilities in Russia at the federal level worth about Rb 500 billion and another Rb 1 trillion at the regional level. According to Kudrin, currently, as in the USSR during its late period, administrative institutional turnover substitutes economic strategy and all proposals related to reforms are not in demand. 
Assessing Gaidar reforms, Aleksey Kudrin accepted that they were necessary though they were not prepared properly. Chairman of Accounts Chamber concluded: “I consider Gaidar a rather great personality who really changed history of Russia. His reforms were necessary because situation in the country was critical ... Gaidar was appointed Acting Prime Minister and he made his historic contribution to the development of Russia. What were the alternatives? I think that none of those who belonged to elite at that time and had to make certain decisions could do what Gaidar did.” 
Esko Aho, former Prime Minister of Finland, participating in the discussion, said: “Negative is manifested immediately as a result of reformer’s actions while positive appears only when reformer leaves.”