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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:

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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.

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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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