Yevgeny Maximovitch Primakov and Adoption

Russian Foreign Minister



Primakov was probably born Yona Finkelstein in Kiev, Ukraine, to Jewish parents, in 1929 (some sources give 1928). His childhood is something he refuses to discuss and is subject to speculation.

The name Primakov derives from a Ukrainian word meaning "adopted son" or "step-son" and this has been interpreted to mean he was adopted or fostered, but there is no confirmation of this.

He was raised in Tbilisi, Georgia, and educated in Moscow. He started his career as a journalist, and probably also later spied for the KGB. In 1970 he was appointed to the Soviet Academy of Sciences and became director of two of its institutes (Oriental Affairs and World Economy and International Relations). He entered the Soviet parliament and became part of the inner circle trying on the one hand to keep the Soviet Union from disintegrating, and on the other, to govern the new Russia. Mikhail Gorbachev made him head of foreign intelligence in 1991, and in 1996 he became foreign minister under Boris Yeltsin. In 1998 Yeltsin appointed him Russian premier, but fired him the next year.


Facts on File. "Facts on Yevgeny Primakov." [Includes portrait]. Available at: Rosenberger, Chandler. "Moscow's Multipolar Mission," Perspective, vol. 8, no. 2 (November-December 1997). Also available at: Hengst, Frank. "Portraet des Neuen Ministerpraesidenten Jewgenij Manimowitsch Primakow." Available at: