Yevgeny Primakov

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Yevgeny Primakov

Yevgeny Maksimovich Primakov (Евгений Примаков) (born October 29, 1929) is a former Chairman (predsedatel') of the government of the Russian Federation. He was the last chairman of an upper chamber of the Soviet parliament, and the Russian Foreign Minister responsible for changing the foreign policy from largely unconditional support of the United States to a more nationalist defence of Russia's interests.

Primakov was born in Kiev, Ukrainian SSR and grew up in Tblisi, Georgian SSR. Born Yonah Finkelshtein, Primakov changed his name to escape the anti-Semitism that was pervasive in the Soviet Union. He was educated at Moscow State 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. From 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 Academy of Sciences. 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 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 Gulf War, in which capacity he held talks with President Saddam Hussein. After the failed August 1991 putsch attempt, Primakov was appointed First Deputy Chairman of the KGB. This appointment all but confirmed long-standing rumours that he had previously worked for the KGB during his career as a journalist and academic. 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.

Primakov became a close associate of President Boris Yeltsin and served as foreign minister from January 1996 until September 1998. As foreign minister, he gained respect at home and abroad as a tough but pragmatic supporter of Russia's interests, and an opponent of NATO's expansion into the former Eastern bloc, though on May 27, 1997, after 5 months of negotiation with NATO Secretary general Javier Solana, Russia signed the Foundation Act (, which is seen as marking the end of cold war hostilities. He was also famously an advocate of "multipolarity" as a theoretical alternative to US global hegemony following the collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War.

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 left-wing majority. As prime minister, Primakov was given some credit for slowing Russia's precipitous economic decline following the August 1998 financial crisis, but his short-lived ministry achieved little else. While his opposition to the US was popular among Russians, it also led to a disastrous breach with the West during NATO's campaign in Kosovo, which ultimately left Russia marginalised in subsequent developments in the former Yugoslavia. Analysts ascribed Yeltsin's 12 May 1999 firing of Primakov to the prime minister's failure to improve Russia's economy and his refusal to dismiss Communist ministers as the Communist Party of the Russian Federation was preparing impeachment proceedings against the president.

Following his sacking as prime minister, Primakov joined the anti-Yeltsin Fatherland-All Russia electoral faction and launched his presidential bid. Initially considered the man to beat, Primakov was rapidly overtaken by Vladimir Putin in autumn 1999. Primakov's presidential ambitions were crushed when Fatherland-All Russia performed poorly in the 1999 Duma elections.

In March 2003, he visited Iraq and talked with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, hoping to help prevent the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, a move which received some support from several nations opposed to the war.

In November 2004, Primakov testified in defense of the former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, on trial for war crimes.

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Preceded by:
Andrey Kozyrev
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by:
Igor Ivanov
Preceded by:
Viktor Chernomyrdin
Prime Minister of Russia
Succeeded by:
Sergei Stepashin

Template:End boxja:エフゲニー・プリマコフ nl:Evgeni Primakov sv:Jevgenij Primakov


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