Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nemtsov Ideas Get a Warm U. S. Reception

The buzz around Washington is that the latest guest from Russia, Boris Nemtsov, Governor of Nizhny-Novgorod, is the next Russian president but one. He could even be Yeltsin's direct successor, whisper the Congressmen and bankers and think-tankers who, like feudal courtiers, always keep one eye on the heir to the throne.


Hailed as the architect of Nizhny-Novgorod's great experiment in privatization and the custodian of the most dynamic civic economy in the country, young Nemtsov is fast becoming the favorite Russian in an American capital that never quite warmed to Yeltsin's boisterous 'Muzhik' style.


In Washington as a guest of both the International Finance Corporation, the private finance arm of the World Bank, and of the powerful Congressman Richard Gephardt, the 33-year old Nemtsov has been causing quite a stir. This is partly because he is young, photogenic and speaks English, but mainly because he is telling the Americans what they want to hear.


"I am not even sure we will need the $700 million in credits for American grain this year -- certainly not in Nizhny-Novgorod where there is no grain shortage this year", Nemtsov said.


Having privatized the retail and the trucking trades in Nizhny-Novgorod, Nemtsov has been thrilling his American audiences with his proposals for privatizing vast defense factories and converting them to civilian production.


Nemtsov has been talking about a scheme for giving land back to the peasants. and he has been marvelling to American congressmen, Democrats and Republicans alike, about the glories of the United States Constitution and Russia's need for a Bill of Rights.


"This guy is just too good to be true -- except he is true", Congressman Bob Livingston of Louisiana enthused after meeting Nemtsov. The senior Republican on the crucial committee for foreign aid, Livingston is also a direct descendant of one of America's Founding Fathers.


Nemtsov is a genuine fellow, a man whose decency is an essential part of his charm. and though a cynic might say that he calculated to say in Washington exactly what Americans want to hear, I suspect that a rather deeper process is at work.


For the first time, Russia is throwing up a generation of English-speaking, American-watching politicians who can merge easily into the style and vocabulary of their Western counterparts. Nemtsov is seen in the United States as an example of Russia's emerging new politicians.


Already you can hear airy talk in Washington of Boris Yeltsin as the last of the Russian originals, the last enigmatic Kremlin leader to intrigue and baffle the West. Maybe so, but if all the world's politicians are going to sound and think the same, I think I feel nostalgic already.