This essay situates Boris Nemtsov as an individual in the broader sweep of Russia’s regional—and national—history. To what extent is the democratic development of particular regions a result of the force, drive, and charisma of particular transformational leaders? And, to what extent is Nemtsov himself a product of the particular social milieu conducive to the genesis of the public-minded, self-sacrificing crusader for the common good? If regional microcosms matter for understanding the genesis of the democratic leader, what are those elements of the longue durée of regional cultural, social, economic, and political fabrics that might help explain the phenomenon of Nemtsov? And how can Nemtsov’s own life help illuminate what aspects of regional histories we should study to explain the paradox of democratic resilience in particular regions and the potential of these regions to help transform national politics? This essay attempts to provide some answers to these questions by discussing the inter-temporal, political regime-transcending reproduction of human capital variations in Russia’s regions and specifically those related to the development of institutions of learning and science.