Gazprom’s role has always been specific. In the 1990s (more precisely in 1989) it was transformed from the Ministry of Gas into a state-owned company and subsequently through the so-called corporatization into a joint-stock company, mainly with the help of the later Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Remo Vyachirev, the first head of Gazprom. Both subsequently made a cash cow out of a company that was said to be the only one paying taxes.
Their children owned Strojtransgaz, a company providing construction for Gazprom. The Russian gas giant was also involved in various non-transparent gas exchange schemes for counter-services and supplied gas even to often non-paying countries of the post-Soviet space. Partly as a source of enrichment for its managers, but partly because in the event of non-delivery there would be an interruption of gas transit to Western Europe, which pays without problems.
Disputes over natural gas prices and payments for it were an almost annual feature of the 1990s, similarly, projects to bypass Ukraine and, to a lesser extent, Belarus, existed practically since the collapse of the USSR. It is not so surprising that the replacement of the hitherto all-powerful Remo Vyachirev by Alexei Miller represented for a large part of the population an effort to stop the looting of the state and Gazprom.