Notable as both a politician and a scientist, he served as Deputy Prime Minister of Russia under President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Ministers Viktor Chernomyrdin and Sergey Kirienko. He also made contributions to the scientific fields of acoustics, thermodynamics, and quantum physics.
After earning his doctorate in physics from N. I. Lobachevsky State University, he worked for the Radiophysical Research Institute. He became involved in politics following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster and was the sole non-communist politician elected to the Russian parliament in 1990.
At the start of his political career, he was a member of the Union of Right Forces party. He later briefly belonged to the Solidarnost and People's Freedom parties before ultimately joining the Republican Party of Russia. A vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and an anti-Ukraine war activist, he was assassinated in early 2015.
The son of Jewish mother Dina Yakovlevna Eidman and Russian Orthodox father Yefim Davidovich Nemtsov, he spent his early years in Sochi, Russia.
In the early 1990s, during his tenure as Governor of Nizhny Novgorod, he instituted a capitalist reform movement that improved the Russian economy and earned him the praise of British Conservative Party Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.