Yeugeny Primakov – “great witness”, “great conciliator”

Now, the ex-prime Minister of Russia Yeugeny Primakov is the key figure in conversations about his chairmanship in the Russian Chamber of Industry and Commerce and his role in getting a license for broadcasting th channel TV-6. He is one of the founders of the Media-Socium non-commercial partnership, which is actively striving to broadcast on the TV channel. Last week, a sensational statement appeared in the mass media: it was said that the chairman of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce would testify about the positive role of ex-president of Yugoslavia Slobodan Milosevic at the Hague Tribunal.

It was reported that, on March 8th, Yeugeny Primakov addressed the largest religious forum “Meeting of Religions and Civilizations” at its opening in Cyprus through a live television discussion. On the whole, Yeugeny Primakov is in the shadow of the current world and domestic events. He has already lost the image of the man who performed the well-known “turn over the Atlantic” in spring of 1999 (Russia’s ex-prime minister decided to stop his tour to America right in the air, over the Atlantic and returned to Russia when learned of the NATO operation in Belgrade).

Under these conditions, Yeugeny Primakov is reminding of himself and his own position to draw the attention of the mass media. During his visit to Paris at the end of February, he presented his “Political memoirs. In the center of power” (French edition) to the French community. Le Monde, an influential French newspaper, has published an analytical article about Russia’s ex-prime minister Yeugeny Primakov and an analysis of his views. The politician is characterized as “a heavyweight of Russia’s foreign policy” and “an experienced master of the secret services.”

Le Monde touches upon the following topics: relations between Primakov and Putin, between Primakov and Gorbachev, and, later, Yeltsin, the ascent of his career three years ago, and the attitude of the ex-prime minister to the events in Yugoslavia and Chechnya. The French newspaper uses harsh and sometimes scathing characteristics of the Russian politician and present-day events in Russia on the whole. However, Le Monde has no demonstrative conclusions regarding the relations between Yeugeny Primakov and Vladimir Putin’s team.

The French newspaper says that Primakov’s attitude to the court hearing in Hague is not a surprise: it meets the Kremlin’s pro-Serb tradition and the views of the experienced politician from the sphere of Russia’s foreign policy.

Le Monde supposes that Yeugeny Primakov was the only “real, probable rival” to Vladimir Putin on the eve of presidential election three years ago. Primakov’s patriot image, the image of a person who could resist NATO, IMF, and other world leading organizations, and his connection with the KGB made for the rise of his political career. The newspaper believes that Vladimir Putin managed to come to power only due to “the war waged in Chechnya."

Nowadays, as Le Monde admits, the opposition between Primakov and Putin has passed into history. President Putin even gave Yeugeny Primakov “an important job." The latter, in his turn, has accepted the rules the game. At the same time, as French journalists say, Yeugeny Primakov’s position as on Chechnya is sometimes contrary to the Kremlin’s official point of view. Le Monde calls Primakov’s attitude to the Chechen problem “a Finnish model." To confirm the words, the Russian politician is cited by the newspaper: “Certainly, Chechnya as a part of Russia’s structure is to be provided with exceptional rights. Let us take Finland for example: Finland possessed a great amount of autonomy under tsarism, which allowed it not to deliver the Russian revolutionaries who organized congresses in Finland. It did not even deliver terrorists.”

Le Monde draws the conclusion that it could have been possible to conclude an amicable agreement with Chechnya that would have allowed it to be formally independent but agreement-bound with Moscow.

Yeugeny Primakov does not consider Chechnya’s president Aslan Maskhadov a “terrorist” (quotation marks used by Le Monde), which is also contrary to the Kremlin’s line. Such an opinion appears from Primakov’s description of his meeting with Maskhadov on October 29, 1998 (between the first and second Chechen campaigns). The parties touched upon the close relations between Maskhadov’s militants “with some sources in Russia that provided financing and paid ransoms for the release of hostages.”

Primakov’s recollections about Aslan Maskhadov’s policy go further. He urged Russia to help Chechnya with armament and financing. Yeugeny Primakov says the realization of the Russian-Chechen agreement on cooperation in the struggle against crime and the restoration of the economy and pension payment failed. That happened, as Primakov himself says, because of Aslan Maskhadov, who “did not wish, or rather failed to get rid of terrorists within a month.”

It makes the people abroad understand Yeugeny Primakov as a politician who sympathizes with Maskhadov. At the same time, the newspaper reports that Russia’s ex-prime minister “does not call into question the official version about the acts of terrorism committed in Moscow in autumn of 1999.” It is supposed to have been done because of Primakov’s loyalty to the authorities.

The Le Monde article concludes with a rhetorical question: “Will Primakov’s voice be heard during Putin’s presidency?” Primakov’s “Political memoirs” must be a very interesting to read. However, Le Monde did not succeed with rendering of the book. The report became a sort of interpretation of politician Primakov to please the foreign political conjuncture. The influential Russian politician is treated in a very simplified manner in the West. A well-known saying can be paraphrased to describe the politician: “Primakov cannot be understood with the mind” (it is a variant of a quotation by the famous Russian poet: “Russia can not be understood with the mind). The same can be said not only about Primakov.

Sergey Yugov PRAVDA.Ru

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