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
First Deputy
Preceded by Viktor Chernomyrdin (Acting)
Succeeded by Sergei Stepashin
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
9 January 1996 11 September 1998
Prime Minister
Preceded by Andrei Kozyrev
Succeeded by Igor Ivanov
Chairman of the Soviet of the Union
In office
3 June 1989 31 March 1990
Preceded byYury Khristoradnov
Succeeded byIvan Laptev
Personal details
Yevgeny Maksimovich Primakov

(1929-10-29)29 October 1929
Kiev, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Died26 June 2015(2015-06-26) (aged 85)
Moscow, Russia
Political party Communist Party of the Soviet Union
(1991–1998, 2002–2015)
Fatherland – All Russia
Alma mater Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies
Moscow State University
OccupationPolitician, journalist, diplomat, secret agent
Awards Orden for Service I.png Orden for Service II.png Orden for Service III.png
Order of Alexander Nevsky 2010 ribbon.svg Orden of Honour.png Orderredbannerlabor rib.png
Order friendship of peoples rib.png Order badge of honor rib.png 100 lenin rib.png Ribbon Medal 850 Mosow.png VeteranLaborRibbon.png Ukraine-republic007(4-5).png Order Dostik 1kl rib.png Medal State Prize Soviet Union.png Medal Lomonosov AN SU.gif

Yevgeny Maksimovich Primakov (Russian: Евге́ний Макси́мович Примако́в, tr. Yevgeniy Maksimovich Primakov; 29 October 1929 – 26 June 2015) was a Russian politician and diplomat who served as Prime Minister of Russia from 1998 to 1999. During his long career, he also served as Foreign Minister, Speaker of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, and chief of the intelligence service. Primakov was an academician (Arabist) and a member of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Romanization of Russian Romanization of the Russian alphabet

Romanization of Russian is the process of transliterating the Russian language from the Cyrillic script into the Latin script.

Prime Minister of Russia head of government of Russia, leads the executive branch in Russia

The Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, colloquially referred to as the Prime Minister is the head of the Russian government and the second most powerful figure of the Russian Federation. The official residence of the prime minister is Gorki-9 in Odintsovsky District, Moscow Oblast, but his/her working residence is in Moscow. Under Article 24 of the Federal Constitutional Law 'On the Government of the Russian Federation', the prime minister "heads the Government of the Russian Federation". The Russian Prime Minister is considered the second highest position in the government, after the President.

Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union the highest legislative body in the Soviet Union

The Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union was the most authoritative legislative body of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) beginning 1936, and the only one with the power to approve constitutional amendments. It elected the Presidium, served as the collective head of state of the USSR, and appointed the Council of Ministers, the Supreme Court, and the Procurator General of the USSR.


Early life

Primakov was born in Kiev in the Ukrainian SSR and grew up in Tbilisi in the Georgian SSR.

Kiev Capital of Ukraine

Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and most populous city of Ukraine, located in the north-central part of the country on the Dnieper. The population in July 2015 was 2,887,974, making Kiev the 7th most populous city in Europe.

Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic one of fifteen constituent republics of the Soviet Union (USSR) from 1922 to 1991

The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, also known as Soviet Ukraine, was one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union from the Union's inception in 1922 to its breakup in 1991. The republic was governed by the Communist Party of Ukraine as a unitary one-party socialist soviet republic.

Tbilisi Capital city in Georgia

Tbilisi, in some countries also still known by its pre-1936 international designation Tiflis, is the capital and the largest city of Georgia, lying on the banks of the Kura River with a population of approximately 1.5 million people. Founded in the 5th century AD by Vakhtang I of Iberia, since then Tbilisi served as the capital of various Georgian kingdoms and republics. Between 1801 and 1917, then part of the Russian Empire, Tbilisi was the seat of the Imperial Viceroy, governing both Southern and Northern Caucasus.

His parents were Jewish and the family name was originally "Finkelstein", but was later changed to "Primakov". [1] [2] [3] [4] His father, according to most records, had been sent to the gulags during the Stalinist purges. [5] His mother was Anna Yakovlevna Primakova, who worked as an obstetrician and a cousin of the famous physiologist Yakov Kirshenblat. [6] [7] [8] [9]

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. [10] [11]

Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies was a university-level educational institution that operated in Moscow, Russia, in 1920-1954. It was created as a result of merging Lazarev Institute of Oriental Languages and the Oriental studies departments in Moscow's other higher educational institutions.

Moscow State University University in Moscow, Russia

Moscow State University is a coeducational and public research university located in Moscow, Russia. It was founded on 23 January [O.S. 12 January] 1755 by Mikhail Lomonosov. MSU was renamed after Lomonosov in 1940 and was then known as Lomonosov University. It also houses the tallest educational building in the world. Its current rector is Viktor Sadovnichiy. According to the 2018 QS World University Rankings, it is the highest-ranking Russian educational institution and is widely considered the most prestigious university in the former Soviet Union.

<i>Pravda</i> Russian newspaper

Pravda is a Russian broadsheet newspaper, formerly the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, when it was one of the most influential papers in the country with a circulation of 11 million. The newspaper began publication on 5 May 1912 in the Russian Empire, but was already extant abroad in January 1911. It emerged as a leading newspaper of the Soviet Union after the October Revolution. The newspaper was an organ of the Central Committee of the CPSU between 1912 and 1991.

Early political career

Director of the USSR Central Intelligence Service Yevgeny Primakov RIAN archive 38725 Director of the USSR Central Intelligence Service Yevgeny Primakov.jpg
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. [12]

Institute of World Economy and International Relations

The Institute of World Economy and International Relations, or IMEMO, is a leading independent research institute based in Moscow, Russia.

The Soviet Peace Committee was a state-sponsored organization responsible for coordinating peace movements active in the Soviet Union. It was founded in 1949 and existed until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

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. [12] 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. [13] [14]

Mikhail Gorbachev 20th-century General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a Russian and formerly Soviet politician. The eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union, he was General Secretary of its governing Communist Party from 1985 until 1991. He was the country's head of state from 1988 until 1991, serving as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1988 to 1989, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 1989 to 1990, and President of the Soviet Union from 1990 to 1991. Ideologically, he initially adhered to Marxism-Leninism although by the early 1990s had moved toward social democracy.

Iraq Republic in Western Asia

Iraq, officially the Republic of Iraq, is a country in Western Asia, bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest and Syria to the west. The capital, and largest city, is Baghdad. Iraq is home to diverse ethnic groups including Arabs, Kurds, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Turkmen, Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandeans, Circassians and Kawliya. Around 95% of the country's 37 million citizens are Muslims, with Christianity, Yarsan, Yezidism and Mandeanism also present. The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish.

Saddam Hussein Iraqi politician and President

Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was President of Iraq from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003. A leading member of the revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party, and later, the Baghdad-based Ba'ath Party and its regional organization the Iraqi Ba'ath Party—which espoused Ba'athism, a mix of Arab nationalism and socialism—Saddam played a key role in the 1968 coup that brought the party to power in Iraq.

Foreign intelligence chief

After the failed August 1991 putsch, Primakov was appointed First Deputy Chairman of the KGB and Director of the KGB First Chief Directorate responsible for foreign intelligence. After the formation of the Russian Federation, Primakov shepherded the transition of the KGB First Chief Directorate to the control of the Russian Federation government, under the new name Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). Primakov preserved the old KGB foreign intelligence apparatus under the new SVR label, and led no personnel purges or structural reforms. [15] He served as SVR director from 1991 until 1996. [12]

Foreign minister

Primakov served as Minister of Foreign Affairs 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 [16] and as an opponent of NATO's expansion into the former Eastern bloc, though on 27 May 1997, after five months of negotiation with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, Russia signed the Foundation Act, [17] which is seen as marking the end of Cold War hostilities. He supported Slobodan Milošević during the Yugoslav Wars. [18]

He was also famously an advocate of multilateralism as an alternative to American 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. [19] [20] Beginning in 1999, he 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. [21] [22]

Prime Minister

After Yeltsin's bid to reinstate Viktor Chernomyrdin as Prime Minister was blocked by the State 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. [23] Following the 1998 harvest, which was the worst in 45 years, coupled with a plummeting ruble, one of Primakov's first actions as Prime Minister, in October 1998, was to appeal to the United States and Canada for food aid, while also appealing to the European Union for economic relief. [24]

While Primakov's 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. [25]

On 24 March 1999, Primakov was heading to Washington, D.C. for an official visit. Flying over the Atlantic Ocean, he learned that NATO had started to bomb Yugoslavia. Primakov decided to cancel the visit, ordered the plane to turn around over the ocean and returned to Moscow in a manoeuvre popularly dubbed "Primakov's Loop". [26]

Yeltsin fired Primakov on 12 May 1999, ostensibly over the sluggish pace of the Russian economy. Many analysts believed the firing of Primakov reflected Yeltsin's fear of losing power to a more successful and popular person, [27] [28] although sources close to Yeltsin said at the time that the president viewed Primakov as being too close to the Communist Party. [29] Primakov himself would have had good chances as a candidate for the presidency. Yevgeny Primakov had refused to dismiss Communist ministers while the Communist Party was leading the process of preparing unsuccessful impeachment proceedings against the president. [30] Ultimately, Yeltsin resigned at the end of the year and was succeeded by his last prime minister, Vladimir Putin. [31] Primakov's dismissal was extremely unpopular with the Russian population: according to a poll, 81% of the population did not approve of the decision, and even among the liberal pro-Western party Yabloko supporters, 84% did not approve of the dismissal. [32]

Deputy and special representative

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. [33] Initially considered the man to beat, Primakov was rapidly overtaken by the factions loyal to Vladimir Putin in the Duma elections in December 1999. [34] Primakov officially abandoned the presidential race in his TV address on 4 February 2000 [35] less than two months before the 26 March presidential elections. Soon he became an adviser to Putin and a political ally. [36] On 14 December 2001, Primakov became President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a position he held until 2011. [37]

Leader of Fatherland - All Russia Duma faction Yevgeny Primakov meets President Vladimir Putin, 2000 Vladimir Putin 13 September 2000-1.jpg
Leader of Fatherland – All Russia Duma faction 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 Putin. He brought to Baghdad a message from Putin to call for Saddam to resign voluntarily. [38] 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. However, the Iraqi leader told Primakov he was confident that no harm would befall him personally [39] —a belief that was later proven incorrect. Primakov later claimed Saddam's execution in 2006 was rushed to prevent him from revealing information on Iraq–United States relations that could embarrass the U.S. government. [40]

In November 2004, Primakov testified in defense of the former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević, on trial for war crimes. [41] He had earlier led a Russian delegation that met with Milošević during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. [42]

Primakov stepped down as President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on 4 March 2011. [43]

Academic life

Since 1988, Primakov was the Academician Secretary of the World Economy and International Relations Division, director of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations and the member of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences. On 26 May 2008, Primakov was elected as a member of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences. [44] In 2009, the University of Niš, Serbia awarded Primakov an honorary doctorate. [45]

In honor of Primakov in 2015 started Primakov Readings - the annual international summit aimed at promoting dialogue on current global trends in the world economy, international politics and security among high-ranking experts, diplomats and decision-makers from around the Globe, organized by the Institute of World Economy and International Relations and held in Moscow. [46]


Farewell to Yevgeny Primakov on 29 June 2015 Farewell to Yevgeny Primakov 26.jpg
Farewell to Yevgeny Primakov on 29 June 2015

Primakov died in Moscow after prolonged illness (liver cancer) at the age of 85. [47] He was buried with military honours at Novodevichy Cemetery. [48]


Writings: major books

See also

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  4. Russian Crossroads: Toward the New Millennium (2008) by Yevgeny Primakov, pp. 17
  6. Леонид Млечин «История внешней разведки»
  7. Примаков Е. М. Встречи на перекрестках. ISBN   978-5-227-05739-6.
  8. Richard C. S. Trahair; Robert L. Miller (18 October 2013). Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations. Enigma Books. p. 346. ISBN   9781936274260.
  9. Robert A. Saunders; Vlad Strukov (13 May 2010). Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation (illustrated ed.). Scarecrow Press. p. 464. ISBN   9780810874602.
  10. Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West, Gardners Books (2000), ISBN   0-14-028487-7
  11. Vadim J. Birstein. The Perversion Of Knowledge: The True Story of Soviet Science, Westview Press (2004) ISBN   0-8133-4280-5
  12. 1 2 3 Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States: Documents, Data, and Analysis (1997) by Zbigniew Brzezinski and Paige Sullivan, pp. 124
  13. Primakov, Yevgeni (11 March 1991). "Diplomacy: My Final Visit with Saddam Hussein". Time. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
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  21. The Third Among the Equals. Moscow, New Delhi and Beijing are creating counter-revolutionary union Kommersant 3 June 2005
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  23. Aslund, Anders (2008). "An Assessment of Putin's Economic Policy" (2). CESifo Forum.
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  26. Кросс по минному полю. (in Russian)
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  29. Hoffman, David (13 May 1999). "Citing Economy, Yeltsin Fires Premier". The Washington Post. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  30. "Primakov, Yevgeny Maximovich". The Columbia Encyclopedia. 2014. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  31. Hoffman, David (1 January 2000). "Yeltsin Resigns: 'I Did All I Could'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  32. Смена Кабинета: Предварительные Политические Итоги
  33. Reynolds, Maura (18 August 1999). "Anti-Kremlin Bloc to Be Led by Primakov". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  34. The 1999–2000 Elections in Russia: Their Impact and Legacy (2003) by Vicki L. Hesli and William M. Reisinger
  35. "Archived copy" Примаков Евгений Максимович (in Russian). Flb. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2010.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  36. Zolotov Jr., Andrei (14 July 2000). "Primakov Finds Role In Putin's Kremlin". The Moscow Times. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  37. Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Foreign Policy (2014) by Norman E. Saul, pp. 293
  38. Евгений Примаков: Саддаму не дали последнего слова. Archived 19 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine (in Russian)
  39. Yossef Bodansky, The Secret History of the Iraq War. Regan Books, 2005, ISBN   0-06-073680-1
  40. "Saddam execution rushed to stop him 'having last word': Primakov". Pakistan Ki Awaz. 15 January 2007. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  41. Simons, Marlise (7 December 2004). "A Warmer Tone in Court as Milosevic Pursues His Defense". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  42. "Primakov: Milosevic ready in principle to talk peace". CNN. 30 March 1999. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  43. "Primakov steps down from Russia's Chamber of Commerce", RIA-Novosti, 21 February 2011.
  44. Евгений Примаков вошел в состав президиума РАН. (in Russian)
  45. "Primakov počasni doktor Univerziteta u Nišu". Južne vesti, Internet novine. 16 May 2009. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
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  50. Леонид Кучма наградил орденом президента ТПП РФ Евгения Примакова. [ permanent dead link ](in Russian)
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  52. Евгений Примаков получил из рук Лукашенко орден Дружбы народов. Archived 28 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine (in Russian)
  53. Primakov & 2004 188.
Government offices
Preceded by
Leonid Shebarshin
Director of the KGB First Chief Directorate
Position abolished
Position established Director of the USSR Centre for Strategic Research
Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service
Succeeded by
Vyacheslav Trubnikov
Political offices
Preceded by
Yury Khristoradnov
Chairman of the Soviet of the Union
Succeeded by
Ivan Laptev
Preceded by
Andrei Kozyrev
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Igor Ivanov
Preceded by
Viktor Chernomyrdin
Prime Minister of Russia
Succeeded by
Sergei Stepashin