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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Primakov Hailed as Skilled Statesman

President Boris Yeltsin presented Yevgeny Primakov to the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, praising its new chief as "an experienced statesman and professional who knows how to organize, who is a person with breadth of vision, a man of honesty and decency."


The president reiterated that the appointment of the country's intelligence chief to head its diplomatic service did not signal a radical shift in Russia's foreign policy.


"A change of ministers does not mean a change in the basic principles of Russia's foreign policy. They are not dictated by the personality of ministers, but by the country's state interests," he told Itar-Tass.


Russian political figures from all across the ideological spectrum rushed to express their approval of the president's choice of the 66-year-old Soviet-era bureaucrat to replace Andrei Kozyrev, 44, who resigned Friday.


Communistdleader Gennady Zyuganov called Primakov "an experienced and skilled statesman," and expressed the hope that the new minister would strengthen Russia's position in the international arena after the demise of Kozyrev, whom Zyuganov had frequently attacked as a lackey of the West.


"Primakov's new capacity implies open political efforts to protect Russia's national interests which were sacrificed to experiments and enemies of our state," he told Interfax.


"[Russia's foreign policy] cannot remained unchanged, because the population does not trust it, and expressed a diametrically opposed opinion during the parliamentary elections in December. Anyway, this course will end next June," he said.


Presidential polls are set for June 16, and Zyuganov has made no secret of the fact that his party intends to put a Communist president in the Kremlin.


Vladimir Lukin, one of the leaders of the reformist Yabloko party and head of the foreign affairs committee in the last State Duma, was also upbeat on the new chief diplomat.


"Primakov is very experienced in foreign affairs and a very balanced person who does not have a super-ideologized approach," Lukin told Reuters. "He is for cooperation, but for real cooperation, not for giving ground."


Western leaders were more restrained in their reactions.


"I don't think there's any reason for me to prejudge the situation with respect to [Primakov]," U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher told Reuters. "I'm expecting to have a good relationship with Mr. Primakov as we try to carry out the foreign policies of our countries."


Other U.S. officials, speaking privately, expressed concern that a man widely seen to be cool to the West will steer Russia's foreign policy.


According to Reuters, the U.S. administration views Primakov as "a hardline right-winger, both in the policies he espouses and in his political associations."


Yeltsin appointed Vyacheslav Trubnikov, 51, to succeed Primakov at the Foreign Intelligence Service. He has spent his entire career in intelligence, becoming Primakov's deputy at the Foreign Intelligence Service in 1992.


"I know Vyacheslav Trubnikov very well," said Yeltsin. "He is relatively young, he has support in the Foreign Intelligence Service, and the support of Yevgeny Primakov."