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Monday, August 9, 1999 Published at 07:37 GMT 08:37 UK

World: Europe

Yeltsin sacks Russian government again

President Yeltsin has dismissed his prime minister, Sergei Stepashin, and the entire Russian government, naming the head of the Federal Security Service, Vladimir Putin, as acting prime minister. Mr Yeltsin has called on the lower house of the Russian parliament to ratify Mr Putin's nomination.

In the meantime he has asked the cabinet to stay on in an acting capacity. This is the fourth time in eighteen months that Mr Yeltsin has dimissed his prime minister.

The decree annnouncing Mr Stepashin's removal -- after only three months in office -- did not give any reason for the decision.

But the BBC Moscow correspondent says it's almost certainly linked to the ferocious battle to succeed Mr Yeltsin and the forthcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.

After sacking Mr Stepashin, Mr Yeltsin confirmed the elections will take place in December.

In a televised speech to the cabinet after his dismissal, Mr Stepashin -- looking shocked and sombre -- said Mr Yeltsin had thanked him and then fired him.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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