A New Capitalist Class: Entrepreneurs and the Economic Elite
This chapter explores new Russian predprinimatel'—variously rendered as entrepreneur, businessman, business operator. Of course, it is no secret that an "underground" private sector existed in the Soviet past, and in this sense private entrepreneurial activity antedates both the Gorbachev and post-Soviet economic reforms. The literature that stresses a distinctly more favorable portrait of entrepreneurial activity than that found in the writing of Tatiana Zaslavskaia and Evgenii Starikov assumes a variety of forms. The chapter reviews the contrasting responses to the emergence of the new entrepreneurial class by examining the views on this matter of one of the principal architects of early post-Soviet economic reforms—Egor Gaidar. Almost everyone agrees that the economic reforms of the early post-Soviet period had a positive impact on the relative economic status of business operators. The conflicting portrayals of the new business class by supporters of market reforms suggest some of the difficulties that confront efforts to provide an objective assessment of the new capitalist class.