Tuesday, August 10, 1999 Published at 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Putin makes tough debut
Putin (left) was called 'the Grey Cardinal' as Yeltsin's security chief
Russia's new Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, has been having his first working meeting with President Boris Yeltsin - as leaders of parliament begin discussing whether to approve his appointment.
He was appointed after the abrupt sacking of Sergei Stepashin by President Yeltsin on Monday.
In a television interview, Mr Putin promised to improve Russian living standards, but warned that those attempting to destabilise the country would go to prison.
Mr Putin spoke of his new challenge, saying he had accepted the post despite having no previous political experience.
But correspondents say it was a sombre and at times chilling performance.
A White House spokesman said the US was confident that Washington would work constructively with the new team.
It is the fourth time in the past 18 months that Mr Yeltsin has sacked a premier.
Mr Putin, 46, has spent much of his life working for the Soviet-era security service, the KGB, before being appointed head of the Russian security service and then of the influential security council.
The lower house of the Russian parliament, the Duma, is to meet next week to vote on whether to confirm Mr Putin's appointment.
Mr Yeltsin said on Monday that he wanted Mr Putin to succeed him as president in next year's elections. Mr Putin immediately responded by saying: ''I shall definitely stand for the post of Russian president."
The move was branded "100% lunacy" by the Communists who control the largest number of seats in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.
He told the cabinet: "This morning I visited the president and he signed a decree on my resignation. He thanked me for good work - and fired me.
"I honestly expressed my position concerning my resignation...but this is his right as the president and the commander-in-chief. I told the president that I have been, am, and will remain with him until the end."