Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 112

Yevgeny Primakov gave the first indications yesterday that he is contemplating a return to Russian political life. Asked about his plans, the former prime minister, who was on his way to Switzerland to receive treatment for chronic back pain and to deliver a lecture, said: “The future will reveal itself. I do not exclude anything” (Russian agencies, June 9).

Anonymous sources in Primakov’s inner circle were less coy about his plans: Russian information agencies today quoted one of them as saying that Primakov is “thinking over various offers and is not rejecting any options.” These sources were quoted as saying that Primakov may make a decision on his next political step when he returns from Switzerland next week. They were also quoted as neither confirming nor denying that Primakov will join Fatherland (Otechestvo), the movement founded and headed by Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. Earlier this week, Artur Chilingarov, a top Fatherland official, said that Luzhkov’s movement had invited Primakov to join it, and that Primakov was sympathetic to the movement. Anonymous Fatherland officials were quoted today as saying that Primakov’s sympathies toward Luzhkov and the movement are both political and personal. Russian media have reported that Primakov may be asked to head Fatherland’s ticket in the Duma elections set for December of this year (Russian agencies, June 10).

The possibility of Primakov and Luzhkov joining forces is not new. Earlier this year, some of Primakov’s key allies–such as foreign policy expert and former Kremlin adviser Sergei Karaganov–openly called for such a union. A Primakov-Luzhkov alliance would undoubtedly be viewed with horror by the Kremlin inner circle, particularly by key insiders such as tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who openly feuded with Primakov during the latter’s premiership, and who is known to dislike Luzhkov. Luzhkov and Primakov, it should be noted, have been open in their disdain for Berezovsky. Luzhkov, who is one of Russia’s main contenders for next year’s presidential election, has openly charged in recent weeks that the Kremlin administration is mounting a campaign against him (see the Monitor, June 2,7-9).