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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Premier Defends Bear Hunt

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, offering no apologies, confirmed he shot a she-bear and her two cubs near Yaroslavl last month, following outraged reports in the Russian media.

In an interview on Sunday's "Itogi" news program, Chernomyrdin said hunting was one of his favorite pastimes and insisted that he had done nothing wrong in shooting the bears.

"I was happy that I had an opening in my schedule for this," he said, speaking from Davos in Switzerland, where he is attending the World Economic Forum. "I like hunting. In fact, I love hunting. There is no other recreation that I can afford. I am always short of time.

"Besides, what do you mean by cubs. That is a strange definition," he added. "There was a she-bear and two cubs, but they were grown up. They were not tiny cubs." The prime minister said he had no way of knowing the animals' age.

The weeklies Ogonyok and Novaya Gazeta reported that Chernomyrdin had used helicopters, bulldozers and agents of the Federal Security Service in the bear-hunting operation hosted by the governor of Yaroslavl.

"I would like the journalists who wrote this to have a face-to-face encounter with those cubs," he said. "Not in an office but somewhere else. I would enjoy watching that. I would have liked to see their reaction."

In the offices of Ogonyok, however, the reaction was dismay last week when a magazine executive announced that either the entire staff or senior employees would not receive their salaries for the next two months because of the article's publication.

"This caused us all a great deal of concern until our editor met with [Boris] Berezovsky in Davos," deputy editor Boris Pasternak said, referring to the deputy secretary of the Federal Security Council.

Pasternak said everyone would be paid. "I don't know why we were told that we would stop getting money, and I don't know what sort of high-level meetings took place after that, but of course I'm very glad."

Ogonyok is partly owned by the Logovaz car dealership and holding company of which Berezovsky is a principal.