Yevgeny Primakov, a former prime minister, foreign minister and head of Russia's external intelligence service the SVR now chairs the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Primakov, who was a longtime friend of the Palestinian Authority president described Arafat as a realistically minded politician who strove for a peaceful settlement of the Middle East conflict, Interfax news agency reported.
In an interview with Interfax, Primakov said that Arafat was not a historic figure at the moment he took over the Palestinian Fatah group or later when he became chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
"The turning point occurred when from a man convinced there was no alternative to armed struggle, he turned into a realistic-minded politician and sought a peaceful compromise with Israel. His contribution to that cause earned him a Noble Peace Prize," Primakov said.