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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kiev Says Envoy May Be Expelled

Famed for his slips of the tongue and pithy witticisms, Viktor Chernomyrdin, Russia's ambassador to Ukraine, has been threatened with expulsion after giving a newspaper interview peppered with derogatory remarks about the country's leaders.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko "fight like dogs and bad-mouth each other," Chernomyrdin said in an interview published last week in Komsomolskaya Pravda. "It's not possible to negotiate with these Ukrainian leaders. If other people come along, we'll see," Chernomyrdin said.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry in Kiev summoned Chernomyrdin on Tuesday and publicly reprimanded the ambassador for the interview.

Chernomyrdin committed a "gross breach of the norms of diplomatic ethics," and his behavior was "incompatible with the status of the head of a diplomatic mission," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vladimir Ogryzko said in a statement.

Chernomyrdin was warned that his actions could prompt Ukraine to declare him persona non grata and expel him, the statement said.

"How would you react as a citizen of Ukraine if you read a statement in Komsomolskaya Pravda that our leadership hasn't got any brains? As a citizen, this outraged me," Ogryzko told reporters Wednesday, Interfax reported.

Russia's Foreign Ministry called Ukraine's threats to expel Chernomyrdin an "unfriendly step."

Chernomyrdin, 70, served as prime minister from 1992 to 1998 and was appointed ambassador to Ukraine in 2001. Numerous web sites are devoted to his sayings. His most-quoted remark was in 1993 on the subject of monetary reforms: "We wanted the best, but it turned out like it always does."

A Russian Foreign Ministry source said the interview was just Chernomyrdin being himself. "We know the picturesque nature of his language," the source told Interfax.