This article examines Boris Nemtsov’s political activities and ideas in connection with the disintegration of Communism, the rise and fall of the Democratic Movement and the rise of Putinism. Nemtsov’s political career started in Nizhny Novgorod, where his reputation as a successful liberal reformer was firmly established. In 1997 President Boris Yeltsin appointed him first deputy prime minister. The financial crisis of 1998 destroyed his reputation as a successful young reformer. Subsequently, Nemtsov started defending a liberal and democratic agenda against the authoritarian Putin regime and crony capitalism, but the urban voters considered him to be a man of the past and failed to support his initiatives. The political parties he founded after 2000 all campaigned unsuccessfully in Russia’s controlled elections.