Primakov, Yevgeny Maximovich
PRIMAKOV, YEVGENY MAXIMOVICH
(b. 1929), orientalist, intelligence chief, foreign minister, and prime minister under Boris Yeltsin.
Born in Kiev, Yevgeny Maximovich Primakov grew up in Tbilisi; his father disappeared in the purges. Trained as an Arabist, Primakov worked in broadcasting in the 1950s and then became a Middle East correspondent for Pravda (and perhaps a covert foreign intelligence operative). In the 1970s he assumed academic posts as deputy director of the Institute of World Economics and International Relations (IMEMO), then as director of the Institute of Oriental Studies, and in 1985 as director of IMEMO.
In 1986 Primakov became a candidate member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and a foreign policy advisor to Mikhail Gorbachev. He was chosen in June 1989 to chair the Congress of People's Deputies, the lower house of the Supreme Soviet formed pursuant to Gorbachev's new constitution. His party status rose accordingly: full Central Committee member in April 1989 and candidate member of the Politburo in September. He was a leading contributor to the "New Thinking" regarding international cooperation that was identified with Gorbachev.
Primakov condemned the attempted coup by hard-line communists in August 1991; Gorbachev then made him First Deputy Chairman of the KGB and head of foreign intelligence. He was one of the few Gorbachev appointees to be retained in office by Russian President Boris Yeltsin after the Soviet Union was dissolved in December 1991.
Appointed foreign minister in January 1996, Primakov was a realistic and cool professional. He was a strong defender of Russian national interests, as opposed to the pro-Western stance of his predecessor Andrei Kozyrev, and often manifested pro-Arab sympathies. Espousing a "multipolar" world, he nonetheless avoided direct confrontation with the West and bargained for a Russian presence at NATO as it was expanding eastward. Later he criticized the 1999 NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia but kept open a Russian role in the Kosovo settlement.
Following the August 1998 economic and political crisis, Primakov emerged as a compromise candidate for prime minister. Overwhelmingly confirmed by the Duma in September, he was the most popular politician in Russia. His model for economic
As prime minister, Primakov soon aroused the jealousy of the ailing Yeltsin and alarmed the president's family and cronies by investigating corruption. Yeltsin emerged from a long period of torpor and dismissed Primakov in May 1999 in favor of Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin. In reply, Primakov accepted the leadership of the "Fatherland-All Russia" bloc to oppose Yeltsin's forces in the Duma elections of December 1999, and was a strong contender for the presidency in the elections due the following year. But in August Yeltsin replaced Prime Minister Stepashin with Vladimir Putin, who set up his own party, Unity, and capitalized on the war in Chechnya to forge ahead of Primakov's people. Primakov withdrew as a presidential contender in order to run for speaker of the new Duma; however, Putin made a deal with the communists to keep Gennady Seleznyov as speaker and marginalize Primakov. Those maneuvers notwithstanding, in the March 2000 election Primakov endorsed Putin, who subsequently tapped him for occasional diplomatic missions. In 2001 Primakov retired from the presidency of Fatherland-All Russia as it was preparing to merge with Unity.
See also: fatherland-all russia; gorbachev, mikhail sergeyevich; yeltsin, boris nikolayevich
Daniels, Robert V. (1999). "Evgenii Primakov: Contender by Chance." Problems of Post-Communism 46(5): 27–36.
Shevtsova, Lilia F. (1999). Yeltsin's Russia: Myths and Reality. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Simes, Dmitri K. (1999). After the Collapse: Russia Seeks Its Place as a Great Power. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Robert V. Daniels
Russian and Soviet leaders
General Secretary of the Communist Party
1 Equivalent of Prime Minister of the USSR
2 Between 1917 and 1953, the Council of Ministers was replaced by the Council of People's Commissars
Joseph Stalin (b. Dzhugashvili)
President of the Russian Federation
President of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Chairman of the Council of Ministers2
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (b. Ulyanov)
Joseph Stalin (b. Dzhugashvili)
Russian Prime Minister