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...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!