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PASSINGS / Jeremy R. Azrael

Rand expert on Soviet economy

March 27, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Jeremy R. Azrael, 73, a leading expert on the Soviet economy and longtime political scientist at Rand Corp., died March 19 at his home in Sherman Oaks, the Santa Monica-based think tank reported. He had been battling lymphoma.

Azrael was best known for establishing and leading a semiannual economic forum after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The meetings, held in New York and Moscow, brought together leading Russian, European and American executives and political leaders.

"His knowledge of Russia was profound," said Arnold Horelick, founding director of the Rand Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. "He witnessed many of the great events that have marked the history and politics of Russia since 1991, and knew many of the participants."

A native of Baltimore, Azrael earned his bachelor's and master's degrees and doctorate in government from Harvard University. He taught political science at the University of Chicago from 1961 to 1980 and served there as chairman of Slavic area studies.

He also worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for a few years before rejoining Rand in 1985. At the think tank, where he had worked in the mid-1970s, he served as director of the Rand Center for Russia and Eurasia starting in 1993 and the Rand/Russia Initiative beginning in 1991. He was a professor at the Pardee Rand Graduate School from 1985 to 1990.

Since 1996, he had been executive director of the Rand Business Leaders Forum.

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