Viktor Stepanovich Chernomyrdin (born April 9, 1938) is a Russian politician.
Chernomyrdin was the Prime Minister of Russia from 1992 to 1998. Since 2001, he has been Russia's ambassador to Ukraine. He is also a Russian business oligarch. Le Monde once estimated Chernomyrdin has assets of $5 billion; but Chernomyrdin stated in 1996 his assets totaled $46,000.
Viktor Chernomyrdin is a target of numerous jokes for his syntactically extravagant speech. One of his expressions "We meant to do better, but it came out as always" became a popular proverb. He said it after a highly unsuccessful monetary exchange performed by the Russian Central Bank in July 1993.
Youth and education
Chernomyrdin's father was a laborer. Viktor was one of his five children. Chernomyrdin completed school education in 1957. He was a C-student. Half of his school grades were Cs, and he did not have a single A. He found employment as a mechanic in an oil refinery in Orsk. He worked there until 1962, except for two years of compulsory military service from 1957 to 1960. His other occupations on the plant during this period included machinist, operator and chief of technical installations. He became a member of the CPSU in 1961.
In 1962 he was admitted Kuybyshev Industrial Institute (which was later renamed Samara Polytechnic Institute). In his entrance exams he performed very poorly. He failed maths and had to take the exam again, getting a C. He got only one B in Russian language, and Cs in the other tests. He was admitted only because of the very low competition. In 1966 he graduated from this institute. In 1972 he completed further studies at the Department of Economics of the Union-wide Polytechnic Institute by correspondence.
During 1967-1973 he was involved in CPSU work in Orsk.
During 1973-1978 he worked as the director of the natural gas refinering plant in Orenburg.
During 1978-1982 he worked in the heavy industry arm of CC CPSU.
In 1982, he was appointed deputy Minister of the natural gas industries of the Soviet Union. Concurrently, beginning from 1983, he directed Glavtyumengazprom, an industry association for natural gas resource development in Tyumen Oblast. During 1985-1989 he was the Minister of gas industries.
In 1989, when the Ministry of Oil and Gas was converted into the government company Gazprom, Chernomyrdin was elected its chairman.
In May 1992, Boris Yeltsin appointed Chernomyrdin deputy prime minister in charge of fuel and energy. In December 1992, Chernomyrdin became prime minister of the Russian Federation.
In April 1995 he formed a political bloc called Our Home ? Russia, which was aimed at becoming the central force in the parliament, but failed in this, gaining only 10% of votes.
During the summer of 1995, Chernomyrdin was involved in direct negotiations with the Chechen terrorist Shamil Basayev, whose armed group has taken hostages in a hospital in Budyonnovsk. Some of the hostages were released after the negotiations.
Chernomyrdin remained prime minister until his dismissal in 1998. Following the default in August 1998, Yeltsin offered Chernomyrdin's re-appointment to the position of prime minister, but the Duma rejected the offer.
In December 1999 he was elected a member of the Duma.
In May 2001, Vladimir Putin appointed Chernomyrdin ambassador to Ukraine. This action was interpreted by some Russian media agencies as a move to distance Chernomyrdin from the centre of Russian politics. In 2003, he dismissed talk of an apology for the Holodomor Famine.