Former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has died at the age of 72. At a time of great change for his country, the former oil refinery mechanic was appointed by President Boris Yeltsin as leader of the Russian government in 1992.
Chernomyrdin was the longest-serving prime minister of post-Soviet Russia, for six years, even standing in for Yeltsin while the president had heart surgery.
During the 1995 hostage crisis in Budyonnovsk, southern Russia, Chernomyrdin negotiated a compromise to free all except 150 of the 1,500 people held by Chechen militant Islamists.
Later Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine, Chernomyrdin ended life as a presidential adviser, but he is best known as the last minister for the Soviet gas industry. After its transformation into a government company, Gazprom, Chernomyrdin became its chairman.