Chernomyrdin, Viktor Stepanovich

(1938– )
   Politician.
   A long-serving member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Viktor Chernomyrdin became the chairman of Gazprom when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’s Ministry of Oil and Gas was reorganized in 1989. Shortly after Russia’s independence, Boris Yeltsin appointed him prime minister, a position he would hold until 1998.
   Chernomyrdin gained an international profile in 1995 when he undertook direct negotiations with Chechen terrorists who were holding hostages at a hospital in Budyonnovsk, Stavropol Krai. The event was seen as the turning point in the first Chechen War. That same year, he established Our HomeRussia, a centrist political bloc that supported the president. Despite his reputation as a rather stolid politician, he was often touted as a possible replacement for Yeltsin, most notably by United States President Bill Clinton. Chernomyrdin had worked closely with Clinton’s vice president, Al Gore, in 1994 to improve U.S.-Russian relations in a number of areas including the environment, technology, business development, energy, and defense conversion.
   Yeltsin sacked Chernomyrdin on 23 March 1998, ostensibly for his slow progress in implementing economic reform, though Yeltsin tried to reinstate him after the ruble crisis. Chernomyrdin then assumed the position as a special envoy to the Balkans, dealing with Serbia during the height of the the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)–led assault. In 2001, Vladimir Putin appointed him as ambassador to Ukraine. His style and statements often grated on the Ukrainian foreign policy elite, and he was relieved by President Dmitry Medvyedev shortly after making dismissive comments about the government in Kiev. He was subsequently named a presidential advisor. Chernomyrdin is infamous for his poor command of the Russian language and frequent malapropisms.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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