Prominent political, public, academic and cultural figures, friends and colleagues all came to say their farewell to Mr Chernomyrdin.
A funeral service was performed at the Novodevichy Convent’s Assumption Cathedral by Metropolitan Juvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolomna. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said in his words at the service that Viktor Chernomyrdin lived for the people’s good and always acted in accordance with his conscience.
Mr Chernomyrdin was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery beside his wife Valentina, who died in March this year.
Viktor Chernomyrdin was Russia’s prime minister in 1992–1998, chairman of the Gazprom board of directors in 1999–2000, and Russian Ambassador to Ukraine in 2001–2009.
Dmitry Medvedev issued a presidential executive order on Mr Chernomyrdin’s funeral, setting up a state commission to organise the event and giving the relevant instructions to the Moscow authorities, the national broadcasting company, and the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Viktor Chernomyrdin, presidential adviser and special presidential representative on economic cooperation with the CIS member states, died at the age of 72.
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Speech at civil funeral ceremony
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Relatives of Viktor Chernomyrdin, ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, friends,
Today, we pay our last respect to Viktor Chernomyrdin, our comrade, who dedicated his entire life to serving his country. His biography was that of a hard working person, hence extraordinary, as during his career he practically dealt with all sorts of things and held various positions always acting with honour and success. It is absolutely evident that his most challenging experience was serving as Prime Minister during a very difficult time of the 1990s.
The nature of time is that people quickly forget the subject matter of events, retaining only the most striking reminiscences. The 1990s were exceptionally perplexed indeed as the country was in an extremely grave situation, many people lost their jobs and incomes, and the public mood was rather gloomy. That was the burden taken up by Mr Chernomyrdin as the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation. In terms of law, he was the first Prime Minister of the country appointed after the new Constitution was enacted. For years, he worked tirelessly in this position and it was certainly the most difficult period in his biography when he did absolutely everything to maintain peace in the society and to resolve urgent economic problems.
I remember very well the significance of his appointment as Prime Minister, as it obviously helped cool down political ardours and produced a politician capable to consolidate and assure people which then was so much needed.
I did not work with Mr Chernomyrdin in the 1990s and only met him in 2000 when I succeeded him as chairman of the board of directors of Gazprom. A significant portion of Mr Chernomyrdin’s career was in the gas sector and he was in fact one of those who created the industry in Russia and in practical terms designed it to become a major component of the national economy. It is thanks to his efforts that electricity and heating are available at every home.
Most recently, Mr Chernomyrdin held another very difficult position, that of the ambassador of Russia to Ukraine, and over the complicated period of time he skilfully levelled out the collisions between the two states, settled the conflicts which flamed between politicians, and simply contributed to restoring normal ties between the two fraternal nations. The sound Russian-Ukrainian relations we have today are to a great extent the result of the efforts of Mr Chernomyrdin who loved both Ukraine and his motherland and who did everything to promote friendly and sincere relations between our countries.
There is one other thing that I cannot fail to mention: Mr Chernomyrdin was an optimist. We communicated a lot, but I cannot remember ever seeing him in a bad mood or him demonstrating his bad moods. Instead, he was always smiling, always joking, and his jokes had a peculiar flair and elegance.
In every position where I met with him, he was always geared toward working efficiently, and he never shied away from taking on any additional burdens, even when he was Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.
All of these witness the fact that Mr Chernomyrdin was an exceptionally wise and experienced person who selflessly loved his motherland, who genuinely loved his native village where he and I once met, as well as our entire country.
Viktor Chernomyrdin is, without a doubt, an outstanding contemporary Russian politician, one of the brightest and mightiest statesmen of the last twenty years.
Viktor Chernomyrdin will remain forever in our memories.
Lest we forget.