Yevgeny Maksimovich Primakov

All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About encyclopedia.com content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated

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

stabilization was President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal in the United States.

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

bibliography

Daniels, Robert V. (1999). "Evgenii Primakov: Contender by Chance." Problems of Post-Communism 46(5): 2736.

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

views updated

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

1922–53

Joseph Stalin (b. Dzhugashvili)

1953

Georgi Malenkov

1953–64

Nikita Khrushchev

1964–82

Leonid Brezhnev

1982–84

Yuri Andropov

1984–85

Konstantin Chernenko

1985–91

Mikhail Gorbachev

President of the Russian Federation

1917

Leo Kamenev

1917–19

Yakov Sverdlov

1919–22

Mikhail Kalinin

President of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

1919–46

Mikhail Kalinin

1946–53

Nikolai Shvernik

1953–60

Kliment Voroshilov

1960–64

Leonid Brezhnev

1964–65

Anastas Mikoyan

1965–77

Nikolai Podgorny

1977–82

Leonid Brezhnev

1982–83

Vassili Kuznetsov

1983–84

Yuri Andropov

1984

Vassili Kuznetsov

1984–85

Konstantin Chernenko

1985

Vassili Kuznetsov

1985–88

Andrei Gromyko

1988–91

Mikhail Gorbachev1

Chairman of the Council of Ministers2

1917–242

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (b. Ulyanov)

1924–302

Aleksei Rykov

1930–312

Genrikh Yagoda

1931–412

Vyacheslav Molotov

1941–532

Joseph Stalin (b. Dzhugashvili)

1953–55

Georgi Malenkov

1955–58

Nikolai Bulganin

1958–64

Nikita Khrushchev

1964–80

Alexei Kosygin

1980–85

Nikolai Tikhonov

1985–90

Nikolai Ryzhkov

1990–91

Yuri Maslyukov

1991

Valentin Pavlov

Russian President

1991–99

Boris Yeltsin

2000– 

Vladimir Putin

Russian Prime Minister

1991–98

Viktor Chernomyrdin

1998

Sergei Kiriyenko

1998–99

Yevgeni Primakov

1999–2000

Vladimir Putin

2000– 

Mikhail Kasianov