Viktor Chernomyrdin (AP Photo)
MOSCOW (AP) — Viktor Chernomyrdin, who served as Russia's prime minister in the turbulent 1990s as the country was throwing off communism and developing as a market economy, died Wednesday. He was 72.
The Kremlin said President Dmitry Medvedev sent his condolences to Chernomyrdin's family and friends. No cause of death has been released, but Chernomyrdin had grown thin in recent years and was reported to have been ill.
Chernomyrdin, who headed the Soviet oil and gas ministry in the 1980s, served as the first chairman of the newly created state gas company Gazprom from 1989 to 1992.
He was appointed prime minister by then President Boris Yeltsin in 1992 and held this post until the financial crash of 1998, when Russia defaulted on its debts and devalued its currency.
When Vladimir Putin became president, he appointed Chernomyrdin as ambassador to Ukraine in 2001 and he remained in this post until last year.
Chernomyrdin was much loved by Russians for his colorful, nongrammatical expressions. His statement that "we wanted the best but it turned out as always" has become part of Russian culture.
He is survived by two sons and four grandchildren. His wife died earlier this year.
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