Viktor Stepanovich Chernomyrdin (Ви́ктор Степа́нович Черномы́рдин) (born 9 April 1938) is a Russian politician. Chernomyrdin was Prime Minister of Russia from 1992 to 1998. Since 2001, he has been Russia's ambassador to Ukraine.
Chernomyrdin's father was a labourer. Viktor was one of his five children. Chernomyrdin completed school education in 1957 and 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.
On 14 December 1992, Chernomyrdin was confirmed by the VII Congress of People's Deputies of Russia as Chairman of the Government 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.
He acted as President of Russia for 23 hours on 6 November 1996, when Boris Yeltsin was undergoing a heart operation.
Chernomyrdin remained prime minister until his dismissal in March 1998. Following the Russian financial crisis in August 1998, Yeltsin re-appointed Chernomyrdin as prime minister, but the Duma refused to confirm this.
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.
One of his expressions "We wanted the best, but it turned out as always" about the economic reforms in Russia became a popular proverb (Хотели как лучше, а получилось как всегда in Russian). The phrase was uttered after a highly unsuccessful monetary exchange performed by the Russian Central Bank in July 1993.