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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gazprom Backs Chernomyrdin Bid

Former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's hopes to become Russia's next president got a boost Wednesday when an official from the natural-gas giant Gazprom said the company would support him.

Andrei Vavilov, an adviser to Gazprom chief Rem Vyakhirev, said the company viewed Chernomyrdin, who was fired from the government last week as part of President Boris Yeltsin's Cabinet clean-out, "as the worthiest candidate in the 2000 presidential elections," and said he had a good chance to win.

Vavilov also said Chernomyrdin, an old-style former Soviet industrial manager, could join Gazprom's management, if such a move would help his electoral campaign, Itar-Tass reported.

Chernomyrdin apparently took the Kremlin by surprise last weekend when he declared his intention to run in the 2000 presidential election. Financial support from Gazprom, the world's largest natural-gas company and one of Russia's wealthiest corporation, will be a key factor in determining the winner.

Although Chernomyrdin is the company's former chairman who looked after its interests while he served as prime minister, commentators had expressed doubts that Gazprom would throw its support behind him because of his low rating in the polls and his lack of experience in electoral politics.

In another boost Wednesday, Alexander Shokhin, the leader of Chernomyrdin's Our Home Is Russia party in the State Duma, parliament's lower house, said Chernomyrdin was a presidential candidate who might be able to consolidate the majority of reformist democratic forces in the society.

The Our Home faction might become "the core of the sensible majority" in the Duma, he was quoted by Interfax as saying. Last week, Shokhin seemed lukewarm about the prospect of supporting Chernomyrdin's presidential bid.