MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin sacked a member of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's cabinet on Wednesday after five months in office, asserting his authority over a government some analysts predict will be short-lived.

Putin signed a decree dismissing Regional Development Minister Oleg Govorun, one of two ministers he had publicly criticized last month, and replacing him with Igor Slyunyayev, a former governor of Kostroma region northeast of Moscow.

The Kremlin has dismissed suggestions that Putin was unhappy with the government, but his criticism of the two ministers added to speculation that he could dismiss Medvedev's cabinet, particularly if economic conditions worsen.

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