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Russia mourns former prime minister

Former Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has died, state media has reported.

Mr Chernomyrdin, who served as prime minister in the turbulent 1990s as Russia was throwing off communism and developing as a market economy, was 72.

The RIA Novosti news agency gave no cause of death but said Mr Chernomyrdin had been ill.

The report cited sources in Mr Chernomyrdin's circle as saying he died early on Wednesday.

Mr Chernomyrdin served as the first head of the state gas monopoly Gazprom, from 1989 to 1992.

In 1992, he was appointed prime minister by then President Boris Yeltsin, a post he held until 1998.

After Vladimir Putin became president, he appointed Mr Chernomyrdin as ambassador to Ukraine in 2001 and he remained in this post until last year.

Mr Chernomyrdin is survived by two sons and four grandchildren.

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