Viktor Chernomyrdin: The Aphorism Master

Ah, those roaring 90-s! The times when the spirit of new freedom was in the air, when the Russians learnt there was life beyond USSR borders and that there is more than one sort of cheese or bread in the world.

In the 90-s, after the old state collapsed and the new one was young and green as grass, Russians had to build a brand new political arena and free some space for new political leaders. That was exactly the moment when a new genre of political stand up comedy was born. Hilarious speeches some of the politicians gave may be explained by their lack of experience in expressing themselves publicly or God-knows-what-else, but seriously—catch phrases voiced from the political arena of the 90-s still echo in the minds of Russians who experienced that epoque first-hand.

The palm of victory for poking fun at Russian language belongs to Viktor Chernomyrdin—Head of the Russian government in 1992-1998. Chernomyrdin took part in all major political events of the decade. He put an end to the “space race” between Russia and the United States by signing an agreement to cooperate in building the International Space Station. He successfully held talks with Chechen terrorists in 1998 and, as a result, 1500 hostages were set free. Chernomyrdin even was a President for 23 hours in 1996, while Boris Yeltsin was undergoing a heart surgery. In 1999, at the apex of the Kosovo conflict, Chernomyrdin was appointed a special envoy to the former republic of Yugoslavia. He remained there until 2001 and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to solve the crisis.

Having paid tribute to Chernomyrdin’s awesome political career, it’s high time to focus on his perversions of the Russian language. What makes these phrases even cooler—Chernomyrdin was absolutely serious when he was saying this. So, check out our list of his best aphorisms: we’ve tried to keep them as close to the original as possible.

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By Irina Vodka

Being an essential part of every party, Vodka is always at the highest degree of cheer. A native Muscovite, Irina Vodka has never worn a traditional Russian hat. Owns a chihuahua, and is not afraid to use it.