Russia's New Icon

Former spymaster Yevgeni Primakov reluctantly became Prime Minister two months ago. Now he is virtually running the country

When Boris Yeltsin was too sick to go on a state visit to Austria last week, Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov quickly stepped in--in every sense of the word. Yeltsin's advancemen sketched out Primakov's arrival and departure; Yeltsin's chief of protocol arranged the state visits; and Yeltsin's personal interpreter did the German-to-Russian translating. The only things missing, a Moscow newspaper wagged, were Mrs. Yeltsin and a battery of doctors. Not to mention the gaffes, stumbles and truncated schedules. The Russian establishment reacted with relief. "It's so good to see the country represented by something other than a walking corpse," sighed a Foreign...

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