Moscow, 23 March 1998 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin in a televised address today justified his sacking of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and the entire cabinet. Yeltsin, speaking in a strong and clear voice, said a more energetic government is needed that will pay more attention to resolving economic and social problems and not waste time on political infighting.
Yeltsin praised Chernomyrdin. He says he has asked him to concentrate his effort on the presidential elections in 2000, which he described as the most "crucial question" for Russia's destiny.
Yeltsin says he will nominate a new candidate for the Prime Ministership soon. Russia's constititution allows the president two weeks to nominate a new prime minister.
Yeltsin criticized the Chernomyrdin cabinet for failing to resolve a variety of key issues in the spheres of economic and social reforms and for lacking dynamism and initative. Yeltsin appealed to Russians to show their understanding and support for a new, strong government.
Chernomyrdin was sacked outright along with First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais and Interior Minister Anatoli Kulikov.
The remaining members of the cabinet were instructed to stay on pending formation of a new government.
In response to the sackings, Moscow's money market closed today, Interfax reported. Currency dealers are quoted as saying the market will stay shut until Yeltsin gives some explanation of his move.
Russian stocks fell in opening trading today on the Moscow Stock Exchange. Stockbrokers say shares plunged by six percent in early trading. One broker said it's not clear yet whether the fall is due only to initial nerves, or whether the slide will continuie during the day.