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Gorbachev: Late Russian ex-PM Primakov was ‘responsive to society and to individual needs’

June 26, 2015, 15:55 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The former Soviet leader also praised Primakov's achievements in developing Russian statehood
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Mikhail Gorbachev

Mikhail Gorbachev

© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, June 26. /TASS/. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev conveyed his condolences on Friday over the death of ex-Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.

Primakov died at 85 on Friday.

In Primakov’s obituary written by Gorbachev and obtained by TASS news agency, the former Soviet leader called the ex-premier "a man of high culture, a bright personality responsive to society and to each individual, well-wishing and attentive to his friends, close associates and work colleagues."

"I was bound with Yevgeny Maximovich by many years of friendship and joint work," the former Soviet leader said.

"During the perestroika years, I proposed to him to take direct participation in the reformation of our state system. He became chairman of the Soviet of the Union in a new and democratically elected Supreme Soviet [parliament]. His participation in developing a democratic parliament was active and yielded good results," Gorbachev said.

"It was at that time that Yevgeny Maximovich became known to the entire country and gained wide support and respect," Gorbachev added.

The former Soviet leader also praised Primakov's achievements in developing Russian statehood.

"During the years of establishing and developing a new Russian state, when the country was in a difficult situation, Yevgeny Maximovich assumed the responsibilities of the head of the government. I believe his role in overcoming the crisis was outstanding and will remain in history," Gorbachev said.

"During the perestroika years and afterwards Yevgeny Maximovich acted much and successfully in the sphere of foreign policy, protecting the country’s interests and demonstrating his resolve along with flexibility," the former Soviet leader said.

"During all these years, he never weakened interest in scientific work and the study of fundamental processes occurring in the world," Gorbachev said.

Yevgeny Primakov's background

Yevgeny Primakov was born on October 29, 1929 in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. He graduated from the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies in 1953.

In the 1960s he worked as a correspondent of the Communist newspaper Pravda in the Middle East where he met with regional politicians, including Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

He later headed the Soviet Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Oriental Studies and then the Institute of the World Economy and International Relations.

Primakov was elected to the Soviet parliament in 1988. He chaired the Soviet of the Union, one of the two houses of the USSR legislature.

Primakov was Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s special envoy to the Middle East and met with Iraqi President Hussein in an attempt to try to avert the 1991 Gulf War.

After the break-up of the Soviet Union, Primakov came to head the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and was appointed Russia’s Foreign Minister in 1996. He advocated the principle of a multi-polar world in Russia’s foreign policy.

President Boris Yeltsin appointed Primakov as prime minister in September 1998 amid financial turmoil in the country. Primakov was picked as a compromise figure to ease political tensions between liberals and hardliners and steer Russia away from a market collapse and the country’s default on its sovereign obligations.

On his way to Washington as Russia’s premier in March 1999, Primakov ordered the plane to make a U-turn over the Atlantic and head home when he learned that NATO had started bombing Yugoslavia.

Primakov, who was credited with restoring stability in the country after the 1998 financial turmoil and helping Russia recover from the economic crisis, was sacked as prime minister in May 1999.

He later headed the Fatherland-All Russia faction in the Russian parliament from December 1999 to December 2001.

Primakov worked as president of the Russian Chamber of Industry and Commerce in 2001-2011.

Primakov’s first wife, Laura Vasilyevna Kharadze, died of a heart disease in 1987. He married his second wife Irina several years later. Primakov had a daughter, Nana, from his first marriage. His son Alexander died of a heart attack in 1981.

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