Former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov has died. Even knowing that he was 86 years old, it was a bit surprising to read about his death this morning. I remember when Yeltsin appointed Primakov Prime Minister, so that’s how long I’ve been following Russian politics.
Given Primakov’s stature in modern Russian politics (he was still quite active), nearly everybody had a comment or opinion to add. I’ve rounded up a few.
Oleg Kozyrev wrote on his Facebook page that Primakov was “one of the few who dared to criticize Putin’s economic & foreign policy. His death is an absolute loss for Russian politics.”
Vitaly Averin (jokingly?) called Primakov “the most liberal PM in post-Soviet Russia – in the sense that he didn’t do anything (laissez-faire)”.
MP Dmitry Gudkov wrote that Primakov put the economy above politics. He also recalled the legend of Primakov ordering his plane to turn around mid-Atlantic “to protest the bombing of Yugoslavia” [note: do we have confirmation of this, or is it just an urban legend?].
Today Russia lacks politicians like Primakov – moderate, thoughtful, independent, and professional.
As just about everybody was declaring Primakov a statesman, and many bemoaning the fact that he had not replaced Yeltsin in 1999, Vsevolod Chernozub wrote:
I’m sorry, but how can we combine these two statements:
“What a nightmare, a KGB officer was elected president [of Russia]…”
“The wise man is gone, what a pity he was not elected president”
It seems that in the hierarchy of the KGB, Putin was just a trifle paunchy, compared with Primakov. Or is more flexible thinking needed?
Several economists commented that Primakov had been a stabilizing figure after the 1998 default.
Vladimir Milov seemed to see Primakov the most clearly, noting that to Primakov image was everything.
Primakov, of course, was an outstanding figure, and played a positive role in the history of our country, but this does not change [anything].
And finally some photos: