Moscow: Georgy Arbatov, a foreign policy adviser to Soviet presidents who served as the country`s top America-watcher during the Cold War, died Friday. He was 87.
Russian state TV, which reported Arbatov`s death, did not give the cause of death, or say where he was when he passed away.
Arbatov, who advised leaders from Leonid Brezhnev to Mikhail Gorbachev and was especially close to Yuri Andropov, was credited in the West and later in Russia for understanding the Soviet system was fundamentally untenable.
"He belonged to a group of reformers who believed that the Soviet system could be and had to be reformed," said Yevgeny Primakov, who served as prime minister under Boris Yeltsin, in comments to state news channel Rossiya-24.
"His name is associated with the entire epoch of the Soviet Union... He was part of the closest and best trusted consultants of Brezhnev and Andropov," Primakov said.
From 1967 to 1995, Arbatov ran the US and Canada Institute, an advisory body to Soviet authorities that he founded and that had huge sway over policy toward the American continent at a time of heightened tensions for the Cold War adversaries.
Arbatov, who studied international law but started out as a journalist after fighting in World War II, penned speeches for leaders including Brezhnev.
Arbatov was awarded the highest Soviet scientific distinction in 1974, named Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.
Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the foreign affairs committee of the lower house of Parliament, said Arbatov`s legacy remains.
"He was a scientist, a politician, a diplomat, and everything that made our politics in recent decades politics of civic-mindedness, politics of effectiveness, and politics of creativity."
Arbatov remained honorary director of the think tank he created.
No information was immediately available about his survivors or funeral plans.