Primakov, Yevgeny Maksimovich

Primakov, Yevgeny Maksimovich yĭvgyānˈyē mŭksyēˈməvyĭchˌ prēˌməkôfˈ [key], 1929–2015, Russian government official and economist, b. Kiev (now in Ukraine). An Arabic scholar, grad. (1953) Moscow Inst. for Oriental Studies, and a member of the Soviet Communist party (1959–91), he worked in the Middle East for Soviet broadcasting and the party newspaper Pravda in the 1950s and 60s. He became deputy director (1970) and director (1985) of the Institute of World Economic Affairs and International Relations; he was also director (1977–85) of the Institute of Oriental Studies. In 1989, Primakov became a member of the Communist party's central committee, and he served as President Mikhail Gorbachev's special envoy to Iraq prior to the Persian Gulf War, a war he unsuccessfully tried to prevent. In 1991, after the August Coup, he became head of the Central Intelligence Service. He remained head of the renamed Foreign Intelligence Service under the Russian government until 1996, earning a reputation as a hard-liner. In 1996, President Boris Yeltsin appointed Primakov foreign minister, and in 1998 he was chosen as a compromise candidate for prime minister when the Duma refused to approve Yeltsin's first choice, Viktor Chernomyrdin. Moving cautiously amid an economic crisis, Primakov avoided financial disaster, but after refusing to dismiss Communist members of his government in May, 1999, as the Communists moved toward impeaching Yeltsin, Primakov himself was dismissed by the president. His political party did more poorly than originally expected in the Dec., 1999, parliamentary elections. In 2003 Vladimir Putin appointed him envoy to Iraq, where he once again unsuccessfully attempted to avert war.

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