Profiles: Spotlight on Russian Opposition Leaders

Read profiles of the politicians and human rights activists behind the opposition voices heard in the Resurgence of Russia series.

Boris Nemtsov
Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images

Boris Nemtsov

Liberal politician

In the early 1990s, Boris Nemtsov served as governor of the Volga River region of Nizhny Novgorod. He implemented a series of successful experimental reform projects that brought him international recognition. In 1997, Yeltsin appointed Nemtsov first deputy prime minister, and designated him his heir apparent. Nemtsov vowed to battle the country's powerful business oligarchs, but lost his position after an economic crisis in 1998 forced Yeltsin to dismiss the entire government. Nemtsov later emerged as co-head of the liberal Union of Right Forces Party, led by former Yeltsin-era reformers, but resigned after the party lost its seats in parliament during elections in 2004.

Lev Ponomaryov
Boris Ryzhak

Lev Ponomaryov

Leader of the For Human Rights group

Physicist Lev Ponomaryov conceived the idea for Memorial, one of Russia's leading human rights groups, in 1987. He soon left to work with fellow physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, and was elected to the Soviet parliament in 1989 in its first open voting. Ponomaryov helped found the Democratic Russia movement and was responsible for organizing massive street protests against Communist Party policies. A member of parliament in the early 1990s, he later returned to human rights work.

Vladimir Ryzhkov
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Vladimir Ryzhkov

Independent legislator

Vladimir Ryzhkov represents the Siberian region of Altai in the Russian parliament. He was first elected in 1993 at age 27 and later headed a group of deputies from the main pro-Kremlin party under Boris Yeltsin. After Putin's election, Ryzhkov became one of the last liberal voices to remain in parliament. In 2005, he became head of the Republican Party, which has recently been refused registration. Ryzhkov won't be able to run as an independent in elections this year after passage of a new law requiring all candidates be elected from lists submitted by political parties.

Grigory Yavlinsky
Natalia Kolesnikova/ AFP/Getty

Grigory Yavlinsky

Leader of the opposition Yabloko Party

A former junior boxing champion in Ukraine, economist Grigory Yavlinsky helped draft some of the most influential reform plans published during Mikhail Gorbachev's last years as Soviet leader. Yavlinsky advocated a quick transition to a market economy, but the measures were never implemented. After the Soviet collapse, he co-founded the social democratic Yabloko Party and emerged as one of President Boris Yeltsin's leading liberal critics. Yalvinsky ran for president in 1996 and 2000. He lost his seat in parliament in 2004, when all the country's liberal parties failed to win seats in voting that Western observers deemed neither free nor fair.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.