He studied physics at a Gorky university under his maternal uncle Vilen Eidman, and later worked as a post-graduate student. Nemtsov published more than 60 scientific papers on quantum physics, thermodynamics and acoustics, with academic colleagues describing him as a gifted scientist.
During his term, he championed sweeping liberalization, including a pioneering land reform that allowed sale of land in the region. He is also credited for creating unprecedentedly free environment for the media in the region, although critics said it was part of his populist policies and that in the actual governing Nemtsov showed authoritarian trends.
At the time of his appointment, he was considered a popular politician with a chance of winning the presidency one day. His public image however suffered from association with the government of Sergey Kirienko, which led Russia into the default of 1998.
Nemtsov was also marred by a scandal involving his donor and protegee, Boris Brevnov, who received a management position in Russian energy monopolist RAO UES. He was later accused by the financial watchdog of wasting the indebted company's money on jet flights for his family and other extravagant spending.
In November 1999, Nemtsov joined other Russian liberals in supporting Vladimir Putin for the presidency, calling him the most worthy candidate for the position. Later he said he regretted that decision and that he didn't vote for Putin at the 2000 presidential election.
In recent years, Nemtsov remained a vocal critic of Putin’s leadership, publishing since 2008 no less than four searing reports on what he called Putin’s failures and misdeeds as a public official. Another report focused on the Sochi Olympic Games, its cost and alleged corruption in the project.
He also penned three autobiographical books, with the best-known called “A rebel's confession.”
He was also reportedly a difficult political ally, having an uncompromising and somewhat prima donna-like attitude to fellow opposition leaders and activists.
Nemtsov allegedly struggled with severe depression during the last few months of his life, according to Meduza, a Russian news website. There are reports that he didn’t feel like being a member of a regional parliament matched his skill set, while at the same time understanding that he couldn’t regain prominence on a national level.
Nemtsov is survived by his estranged wife Raisa, with whom he had a daughter. He had longtime relationships with two other women, who bore him three children.
Inputs from RT News