World

Yevgeny Primakov, former Russian premier, foreign minister dies at 85

  • FILE - In this June  21, 2012 file photo, former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, right, and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger speak as they take part in an economic forum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Primakov, whose career included journalism, diplomacy and spycraft, has died at age 85. The Kremlin said Friday, June 26, 2015 that President Vladimir Putin has offered condolences to Primakov’s family. The cause of death wasn’t immediately known. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, File)

    FILE - In this June 21, 2012 file photo, former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, right, and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger speak as they take part in an economic forum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Primakov, whose career included journalism, diplomacy and spycraft, has died at age 85. The Kremlin said Friday, June 26, 2015 that President Vladimir Putin has offered condolences to Primakov’s family. The cause of death wasn’t immediately known. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Feb.  28, 2011 file photo, former chief of Russia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry Yevgeny Primakov speaks at a news conference in Moscow, Russia. Former Russian Prime Minister Primakov, whose career included journalism, diplomacy and spycraft, has died at age 85. The Kremlin said Friday, June 26, 2015 that President Vladimir Putin has offered condolences to Primakov’s family. The cause of death wasn’t immediately known. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze, File)

    FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2011 file photo, former chief of Russia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry Yevgeny Primakov speaks at a news conference in Moscow, Russia. Former Russian Prime Minister Primakov, whose career included journalism, diplomacy and spycraft, has died at age 85. The Kremlin said Friday, June 26, 2015 that President Vladimir Putin has offered condolences to Primakov’s family. The cause of death wasn’t immediately known. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2014 file photo, former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov attends a ceremony of opening a plaque on a wall of the Foreign Ministry headquarters, for diplomats who volunteered to go to the front line during the WWII, in Moscow, Russia. Primakov, whose career included journalism, diplomacy and spycraft, has died at age 85. The Kremlin said Friday, June 26, 2015 that President Vladimir Putin has offered condolences to Primakov’s family. The cause of death wasn’t immediately known. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

    FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2014 file photo, former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov attends a ceremony of opening a plaque on a wall of the Foreign Ministry headquarters, for diplomats who volunteered to go to the front line during the WWII, in Moscow, Russia. Primakov, whose career included journalism, diplomacy and spycraft, has died at age 85. The Kremlin said Friday, June 26, 2015 that President Vladimir Putin has offered condolences to Primakov’s family. The cause of death wasn’t immediately known. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)  (The Associated Press)

Former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, whose career included journalism, diplomacy and spycraft, has died at age 85.

The Kremlin said Friday that President Vladimir Putin has offered condolences to Primakov's family. The cause of death wasn't immediately known.

Primakov had deep experience in the Middle East, where he worked as a correspondent for the Soviet daily Pravda, and both Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Putin used him as point man to try to head off wars with Iraq. As premier, he sought but failed to prevent NATO from bombing Yugoslavia in the war over Kosovo.

But Primakov was more influential at home, and in 1999 was widely seen as a likely successor to Boris Yeltsin as president, before being undermined by negative television coverage orchestrated by supporters of Putin.