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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chernomyrdin Ready To Return to Kremlin

In a statement that will further fuel speculation that he is set to make a return to government, sacked Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said Thursday that, if asked, he is ready to work with the government to resolve Russia's financial crisis.

Chernomyrdin denied reports that at his surprise meeting with President Boris Yeltsin on Tuesday he had been offered a government post, but said that if asked, he would accept.

"I want to say that I am ready ... to participate," he said at a news conference. "If someone wants to engage Chernomyrdin in this work, I will do it gladly. I do not want to stay away from this."

The veteran politician added: "I am sure I know a thing or two, and no less than those who hang around [in the government] day and night. I will consider such proposals but only if they are in line with the constitution."

Dismissed unexpectedly by Yeltsin on March 23 after five years at the head of the government, Chernomyrdin, 60, announced recently that he is to run for a vacant State Duma, the lower house of parliament, seat in the Yamalo-Nenetsky autonomous district in Russia's Far North. In the longer term, he has declared his intention to run for the presidency in 2000.

But many commentators have written off his chances as a public politician and speculated that he would prefer a return to his more familiar role as a government bureaucrat.

Tuesday's meeting between the two men at Yeltsin's suburban dacha, was followed by reports, citing sources in Chernomyrdin's entourage, that the president had offered his former prime minister an unspecified role in the government.

"Let me tell you that we did not discuss any positions," Chernomyrdin said Thursday. "We went through the most difficult times with Boris Nikolayevich [Yeltsin]. ... Of course, I have my own views on various matters of the economy. I outlined them to him and made my proposals."

Chernomyrdin said that given the instability on the international financial markets and the threat this posed to Russia's fiscal system, the government needed all the help it could get.

"I think there is a crisis, a crisis that we have never seen before," he told reporters. He said that the situation was not hopeless, but that a solution could only be found if all branches of the government and all political forces pulled together.

"Politicians should not use these difficulties to their own advantage," he said, adding: "Politicians must not stand on the sidelines. Everybody must understand that this is what Russia needs."