Yegor Gaidar, one of the leading architects of free market reforms in post-Soviet Russia, has died at the age of 53, his aide said on Wednesday.

Gaidar reportedly died of natural causes when a blood clot became dislodged.

He was one of the young reformers, including Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov, that President Boris Yeltsin surrounded himself with in the early 1990s and was acting prime minister during the second half of 1992.

The parliament refused to confirm Yeltsin's choice, and Gaidar stepped aside for Viktor Chernomyrdin to become the president's economic adviser.

He was vilified by the public for the hardships caused by his "shock therapy" policy to move Russia from the Soviet planned economy to free-market capitalism and left government in 1994, although he was elected to serve two terms in the State Duma, in 1993-1995 and 1999-2003.

Chubais, the minister responsible for privatization in the early 1990s, praised Gaidar as Russia's savior.

Yegor Gaidar, architect of Russia's free market transition, dies | Top Russian news and analysis online | 'RIA Novosti' newswire