Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 7

President Boris Yeltsin yesterday named Yevgeny Primakov, director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) since December 1991, to succeed Andrei Kozyrev as Foreign Minister. Although he been considered previously as a replacement for the embattled Kozyrev, Primakov’s appointment was unexpected at this time.

Primakov, 66, was born in 1929 in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev and spent his childhood in Tbilisi, Georgia. He was educated in international economics and oriental studies and speaks fluent Arabic and English. Primakov has worked for Soviet state television and radio and served as a Middle Eastern correspondent for the newspaper Pravda. In the 1970s, he headed the Oriental Studies Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences and served as deputy head of the Institute of International Economy and International Relations. Primakov chaired the USSR Supreme Soviet in 1988 and was named a member of the USSR Presidential Council in 1990. (Interfax, January 9) During the perestroika years, he was described as a liberal and a loyalist of then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

During his tenure at the SVR, Primakov made several forays into the foreign policy arena. In November 1993, for example, he made public an SVR study on NATO expansion. That study argued that the eastward enlargement of NATO would be contrary to Russia’s national interest and would compel Moscow to review its military planning and deployments, with possible deleterious consequences for Russian reform. In September 1994, he published a study that dismissed western concerns regarding reintegration of the countries of the CIS. The study argued that such reintegration was largely inevitable and consistent with Russian national interests. Although Primakov’s appointment is unlikely to change significantly the substance of Russian foreign policy, it could strengthen tendencies evident since late 1992 that have caused Moscow to turn from the west in search of allies among former Soviet client states in the Middle East and Asia. Primakov is said to have close ties with the Iraqi regime, an orientation that was reported to be the cause of some consternation in Washington yesterday. A member of the powerful Russian Security Council since late 1993, Primakov will bring a professionalism to the Foreign Ministry occasionally lacking under Kozyrev and will be less malleable than was his predecessor. (8)

…Prompting Concerns Over A Reconstructed KGB.