Viktor Chernomyrdin Dies

Viktor Chernomyrdin, former prime minister of Russia and a titan of the country's turbulent first decade after the fall of communism, has died at the age of 72.

A big, bluff factory worker who worked his way up through the Soviet hierarchy, he will be best remembered for his legendary saying, "We wanted better, but it turned out like always."

Chernomyrdin started his career as a mechanic in an oil refinery in the southern Urals but went on to head the newly created energy giant Gazprom in 1989, and serve as premier under President Boris Yeltsin from 1992 to 1998. He later spent eight years as Russia's ambassador to Ukraine.

Viktor S. Chernomyrdin, given to startlingly apt if occasionally cock-eyed aphorisms, was a ruefully calming influence during his five years as Russian prime minister in the tumultuous 1990s.

A onetime Soviet minister who had turned Gazprom into a sprawling private company, Mr. Chernomyrdin then turned down the heat on economic reform when it looked like it would wreck the country. He died Nov. 3 at the age of 72 of undisclosed causes.

Selected by President Boris Yeltsin in 1992 to bring a bit of Russian common sense to a government that threatened to go off the rails, Mr. Chernomyrdin was afflicted with a strong streak of realism.

No cause of death was released, but he had grown thin in recent years and was reported to have been ill.

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, sent his condolences to his family and friends. The president also ordered his chief of staff to organise Mr Chernomyrdin’s funeral on Friday, which will be also shown live on national television.

Viktor Chernomyrdin, the longest- serving prime minister in post-Soviet Russia and the first head of state natural-gas export monopoly OAO Gazprom, died in Moscow. He was 72.

Former President Boris Yeltsin appointed Chernomyrdin to head the government in December 1992. He held the post until March 1998. As prime minister, he oversaw the overhaul of Russia’s economy, including voucher privatization and the loans- for-shares program that created many of so-called oligarchs who continue to dominate Russian business.