Chernomyrdin, Viktor Stepanovich (vyēkˈtôr styĭpänˈəvyĭch chərˌnōmĭrˈdən) [key], 1938–2010, Soviet and Russian government official. Beginning in 1957, he held positions in the Soviet national oil and gas industry, serving (1985–89) as minister in control of the nation's huge energy complex. After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Chernomyrdin supervised the transformation of the gas ministry into an enormous corporation, Gazprom. In 1992 he was brought into the Russian cabinet and, in a compromise, was chosen prime minister by Boris Yeltsin. A centrist, he initially opposed many economic changes, and gained greater power following the failure of advocates of swift economic reform to attain a parliamentary majority in 1993. Until his dismissal during an economic slump in 1998, however, he moved toward support for privatization and other reforms, and was regarded as pro-Western. In Aug., 1998, Yeltsin again sought to appoint him prime minister, but the Duma refused to approve him. In 1999, Yeltsin sent him as a special envoy to Yugoslavia, in the midst of the Kosovo crisis, and Chernomyrdin subsequently returned to Gazprom as its chairman. He was elected to the Duma in Dec., 1999, but his Our Home Is Russia party won only 1.2% of the vote nationally. He was Russia's ambassador to Ukraine from 2001 to 2009, when he was appointed an adviser to the president.
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