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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chernomyrdin Admits His Government Made Mistakes

WASHINGTON -- Former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said his government made "mistakes" that may have set the scene for the recent money-laundering scandal.

During a news conference Thursday sponsored by the Center for Democracy, Chernomyrdin responded to reporters' questions about allegations that former and current Russian officials and organized crime groups laundered as much as $15 billion through the Bank of New York.

"With such a huge country conducting such a large-scale privatization everywhere, of course, we made mistakes," Chernomyrdin said. "We took measures, but maybe that wasn't enough."

Chernomyrdin served as prime minister from late 1992 until March 1998.

"It is very important to find out the information about this, to punish those who are guilty, to return the money and to prevent it from happening again," Chernomyrdin said.

Federal and international authorities are investigating the allegations. No one has been charged with any wrongdoing.

Chernomyrdin said that a pervasive "anti-Russia" mood exists in the United States because his country has been unable to create a safe environment for businesses and investors. But he said that the illegal actions of several individuals should not taint U.S.-Russian relations.

"It would be premature and unfair to think that all Russian business is corrupt," said Chernomyrdin, who is chairman of the gas monopoly, Gazprom.