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Russia to pay last respects to ex-PM Yevgeny Primakov

June 29, 2015, 9:42 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov died June 26 at the age of 85
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© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, June 29. /TASS/. Russia will on Monday pay its last respects to outstanding state figure, wise diplomat, influential scholar and talented journalist Yevgeny Primakov - an entire epoch in the country’s history, who died June 26 at the age of 85.

Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, who knew Primakov for many years, will hold a memorial service for him in the Novodevichy Convent. Primakov will be buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery at 14:00 Moscow Time on Monday.

Putin’s message of condolences

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s message of condolences to the family and friends of Primakov reads in part: "This is a great and irreplaceable loss for our entire society. Mr. Primakov was a figure of great scale and a person whose influence was recognized at home and abroad."

"He earned the respect of millions of Russians, who valued his broad-ranging work that always sought to defend our country’s national interests and benefit its people," the message said.

"Mr. Primakov was an outstanding statesman, talented scholar, and wise and charismatic diplomat," it said. "He made a tremendous contribution to modern Russia’s development."

"His enormous professionalism and management experience, deep knowledge and analytical mind, ability to persuade and firmness of character always found their place and use in the most responsible and difficult areas of work," Putin’s message said.

"No matter in what post, he always found effective solutions to the tasks at hand, and was dedicated to his work and to his homeland," it said.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement

"Yevgeny Primakov has passed away… It’s very hard to find words, but the size of his personality - a great man, state figure, politician, scientist, journalist, publicist - can’t but be noted," Lavrov said. "Whatever he took up, no matter where he was, he was the best, he was the first everywhere. We will very much miss him," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday.

"We remember with warmth the time when he led the Russian Foreign Ministry," the top Russian diplomat said. "He made an invaluable contribution to the development of the foundations of our foreign policy, principles that retain their urgency today in full too."

"First of all, it’s Russia’s independent policy in defending its national interests, the readiness and openness for the broadest, closest cooperation with everyone who is ready to interact with our country on an equal mutually beneficial basis," Lavrov said.

Primakov’s biography

Yevgeny Primakov was born on October 29, 1929 in the Ukrainian capital 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 parliament.

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 the economy recover from the economic crisis, was fired 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.

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