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Medvedev, Putin say last farewell to Chernomyrdin

Viktor Chernomyrdin

MOSCOW. Nov 5 (Interfax) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday visited the House of Receptions to pay their tribute and say their last farewell to Viktor Chernomyrdin.

"Viktor Chernomyrdin was indisputably an outstanding contemporary Russian politician, one of the most striking and powerful statesmen of the last 20 years," Medvedev said at the ceremony.

In his opinion, the greatest trial for Chernomyrdin was when he was appointed the prime minister of Russia in the very complex 1990s. In those times Russia was in a very complex situation with many people losing their jobs and public sentiments being low, he said.

"This entire burden befell Viktor Chernomyrdin as the chairman of the Russian government, the first prime minister after the adoption of the new constitution and he worked tirelessly in this capacity," Medvedev stressed.

He said Chernomyrdin did his utmost to resolve pressing economic problems. "It is apparent that as a result of his appointment political passions were calmed down. A figure appeared on the political arena that consolidated people. That was very important," Medvedev said.

Chernomyrdin was in fact one of the founders of the gas industry in Russia and he did everything for it to become a leading sector in the Russian economy, the president said.

He said that Chernomyrdin's last job was the complex post of the Russian ambassador to Ukraine. "He did everything for settling the differences that appeared between our countries and put out the worst "fires" that flared up in relations between politicians and helped restore normal ties between the two brotherly nations," Medvedev said.

In his turn Putin said that Chernomyrdin was a very striking and talented person. "Whatever job he was given, he succeeded in everything. And next to him one felt reliability and solidity," he said at the ceremony.

He said that Chernomyrdin became prime minister in 1992. "We can only guess what it cost him, what moral and physical burden he carried. He went into every details, he knew everyone by name - deputies, ministers and governors. In addition to his own sector he knew what is called the real economy. His Cabinet carried out very complex reforms in Russia. He never shirked responsibility," Putin said.

"I will never forget our conversation before his departure for Kyiv. I remember how he said to me - if you had offered me to go to America or become a minister, I would have refused, of course. But Ukraine is very important for Russia. I am going," Putin recalled.

Chernomyrdin died on November 3 at the age of 73. In line with a presidential decree he will be buried at Novodevichy cemetery next to his wife.

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