Yevgeny Primakov

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Yevgeny Primakov
Евгений Примаков
E Primakov 03.jpg
Prime Minister of Russia
In office
11 September 1998 – 12 May 1999
President Boris Yeltsin
Preceded by Viktor Chernomyrdin (Acting)
Succeeded by Sergei Stepashin
Candidate member of the 27th Politburo
In office
20 September 1989 – 14 July 1990
Full member of the 27th Central Committee
In office
20 September 1989 – 14 July 1990
Personal details
Born Yevgeny Maksimovich Primakov
(1929-10-29) 29 October 1929 (age 85)
Kiev, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union (now Ukraine)
Nationality Russian
Political party Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Fatherland – All Russia
United Russia
Children Alexander
Alma mater Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies
Moscow State University
Occupation Politician, journalist, diplomat, secret agent
Religion Russian Orthodox

Yevgeny Maksimovich Primakov (Russian: Евге́ний Макси́мович Примако́в, tr. Yevgeniy Maksimovich Primakov; born 29 October 1929) is a Russian politician and diplomat who was Prime Minister of Russia from 1998 to 1999. During his long career, he also served as Foreign Minister, Speaker of the Soviet of the Union of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, and chief of the intelligence service.[1] Primakov is an academician and a member of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Early life[edit]

Primakov was born in Kiev, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union now Ukraine, and grew up in Tbilisi, Georgian SSR. His father was Russian and his mother Jewish. His father, according to most records, was repressed in the Gulag. His mother was a doctor and cousin of the famous physiologist Yakov Davidovich Kirshenblat. He was educated at the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies, graduating in 1953 and did postgraduate work at Moscow State University. From 1956 to 1970, he worked as a journalist for Soviet radio and a Middle Eastern correspondent for Pravda newspaper. During this time, he was sent frequently on intelligence missions to the Middle East and the United States as a KGB co-optee under codename MAKSIM.[2][3]

Early political career[edit]

Director of the USSR Central Intelligence Service Yevgeny Primakov

As the Senior Researcher of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Primakov entered in 1962 the scientific society. From 30 December 1970 to 1977, he served as Deputy Director of Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the USSR Academy of Sciences. From 1977 to 1985 he was Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the USSR Academy of Sciences. During this time he was also First Deputy Chairman of the Soviet Peace Committee, In 1985 he returned to the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, serving as Director until 1989.

Primakov became involved in politics in 1989, as the Chairman of the Soviet of the Union, one of two houses of the Soviet parliament. From 1990 until 1991 he was a member of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's Presidential Council. He served as Gorbachev's special envoy to Iraq in the run-up to the Persian Gulf War, in which capacity he held talks with President Saddam Hussein. After the failed August 1991 putsch, Primakov was appointed First Deputy Chairman of the KGB. After the formation of the Russian Federation, Primakov was appointed Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service SVR, serving in that position from 1991 until 1996.

Foreign minister[edit]

Primakov served as foreign minister from January 1996 until September 1998. As foreign minister, he gained respect at home and abroad the reputation as a tough but pragmatic supporter of Russia's interests[4] and as an opponent of NATO's expansion into the former Eastern bloc, though on 27 May 1997, after 5 months of negotiation with NATO Secretary general Javier Solana, Russia signed the Foundation Act,[5] which is seen as marking the end of cold war hostilities.

He was also famously an advocate of multilateralism as an alternative to US global hegemony following the collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War. Primakov called for a Russian foreign policy based on low-cost mediation while expanding influence towards the Middle East and the former Soviet republics. Another view is that though Primakov's rhetoric was anti-Western, he actually complied with Western wishes.[6] Primakov has promoted Russia, China, and India as a "strategic triangle" to counterbalance the United States. The move was interpreted by some observers as an agreement to fight together against 'color revolutions' in Central Asia.[7]

Prime minister[edit]

After Yeltsin's bid to reinstate Viktor Chernomyrdin as Russian prime minister was blocked by the Duma in September 1998, the President turned to Primakov as a compromise figure whom he rightly judged would be accepted by the parliament's majority. As prime minister, Primakov was given credit for forcing some very difficult reforms in Russia, most of them, such as the tax reform, became major successes.[8] While his opposition to perceived US unilateralism was popular among Russians, it also led to a breach with the West during the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, and isolated Russia during subsequent developments in the former Yugoslavia.[9]

Analysts ascribed Yeltsin's 12 May 1999 firing of Primakov as a reaction to his fear of losing power to a more successful and popular person. Primakov also refused to dismiss Communist ministers as the Communist Party of the Russian Federation was leading the process of preparing unsuccessful impeachment proceedings against the president. However, Yeltsin resigned at the end of the year and was succeeded by the prime minister of that time, Vladimir Putin.

On March 24, 1999, Primakov was heading to Washington, D.C. for an official visit. Flying over the Atlantic Ocean, he learned that NATO started to bomb Yugoslavia. Primakov decided to cancel the visit, ordered the plane to turn around over the ocean and returned to Moscow - it was called Primakov's loop.[10]

Deputy and special representative[edit]

Before Yeltsin’s resignation, Primakov supported the Fatherland – All Russia electoral faction, which at that time was the major opponent of the pro-Putin Unity, and launched his presidential bid. Initially considered the man to beat, Primakov was rapidly overtaken by the factions loyal to Vladimir Putin in the Duma elections in December 1999. Primakov officially abandoned the presidential race in his TV address on 4 February 2000[11] less than two months before the 26 March presidential elections. Soon he became an adviser to Putin and a political ally. On 14 December 2001, Primakov became President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Leader of Fatherland – All Russia Duma fraction Yevgeny Primakov meets President Vladimir Putin, 2000

In February and March 2003, he visited Iraq and talked with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, as a special representative of President Vladimir Putin. He brought to Baghdad a message from Putin to call for Saddam to resign voluntarily.[12] He tried to prevent the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, a move which received some support from several nations opposed to the war. Primakov suggested that Saddam must hand over all Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to the United Nations, among other things.[13] "Saddam tapped me on the shoulder and went out of the room", Primakov recalled.[13] Saddam showed strong confidence that nothing terrible will happen with him personally. In Primakov's opinion, this confidence was the result of Iraqi secret relationship with U.S., and the rapid execution of Saddam did not allow him to "say the last word" to uncover the whole game. "And if he had said all this, I assure you, it was very uncomfortable to sit in the President chair for the current President of the United States", Primakov assured.[12] However, Saddam's execution was anything but rapid. He was captured in December 2003, allowed to speak at length many times during a long, open trial, and not executed until December 2006.

In November 2004, Primakov testified in defense of the former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević, on trial for war crimes. Earlier, he was the leader of a Russian delegation that met with Slobodan Milosevic during NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.

On 11 December 2007, Primakov said at a meeting with Putin that the course followed by Putin should be continued, as Putin prepares to leave the presidency in 2008. He said that there were two threats to this course: one from neo-liberals and the oligarchs, and one from those seeking the merger "of the state apparatus with business" in order to create an "administrative-market society".[14]

On 21 February 2011, Primakov announced that he would resign as President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, effective 4 March 2011.[15]

Academic life[edit]

Since 1988, Primakov was the Academician Secretary of the World Economy and International Relations Division, and the member of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences. On 2008-05-26, Primakov was elected as a member of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences.[16] In 2009, the University of Niš, Serbia awarded Primakov an honorary doctorate.[17]

Apart from Russian, Primakov speaks Arabic, English and Georgian.


He is related to Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin.[citation needed]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ion Mihai Pacepa, A Terrorist State in the G8?, Human Events, 3 December 2007
  2. ^ Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West, Gardners Books (2000), ISBN 0-14-028487-7
  3. ^ Vadim J. Birstein. The Perversion Of Knowledge: The True Story of Soviet Science. Westview Press (2004) ISBN 0-8133-4280-5
  4. ^ Quinn, Paul (9 November 1998). "Russia's New Icon". TIME. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ [compliant with the policy preferences of the West]
  7. ^ The Third Among the Equals. Moscow, New Delhi and Beijing are creating counter-revolutionary union Kommersant, 3 June 2005
  8. ^ Aslund, Anders (2008). "An Assessment of Putin's Economic Policy" (2). CESifo Forum. 
  9. ^ Tsygankov, Andrey P. (2013). Russia's Foreign Policy: Change and Continuity in National Identity. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 108–113. ISBN 9781442220003. 
  10. ^ Кросс по минному полю. (Russian)
  11. ^ Примаков Евгений Максимович (in Russian). Flb. Retrieved 28 September 2010. 
  12. ^ a b Евгений Примаков: Саддаму не дали последнего слова. (Russian)
  13. ^ a b Yossef Bodansky The Secret History of the Iraq War. Regan Books, 2005, ISBN 0-06-073680-1
  14. ^ "Business backs continuity of president's course - Primakov", Itar-Tass, 11 December 2007.
  15. ^ "Primakov steps down from Russia's Chamber of Commerce, RIA-Novosti, 21 February 2011.
  16. ^ Евгений Примаков вошел в состав президиума РАН. (Russian)
  17. ^ "Primakov počasni doktor Univerziteta u Nišu". Južne vesti, Internet novine. 16 May 2009. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  18. ^ В.Путин наградил Е.Примакова орденом Почёта. (Russian)
  19. ^ Леонид Кучма наградил орденом президента ТПП РФ Евгения Примакова. (Russian)
  20. ^ О награждении орденом «Данакер» Примакова Е.М. (Russian)
  21. ^ Евгений Примаков получил из рук Лукашенко орден Дружбы народов. (Russian)

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Position created
Director of Foreign Intelligence Service (Russia)
Succeeded by
Vyacheslav Trubnikov
Political offices
Preceded by
Andrey Kozyrev
Foreign Minister of Russia
Succeeded by
Igor Ivanov
Preceded by
Viktor Chernomyrdin
Prime Minister of Russia
Succeeded by
Sergei Stepashin