"In compliance with Article 117 of the Russian Constitution I have made a decision to discharge the government," said the President in a statement broadcast by Russian TV channels.
"This decision is not connected with the assessment of the government's work, which on the whole was satisfactory," Putin said.
"It is dictated by a desire to once again demonstrate my stand as to what the country's course of development will be after March 14, 2004," the President announced.
"I believe that Russian citizens have a right to and must know the proposals on the composition of the supreme executive body in case I am elected President of the Russian Federation," he explained.
In his opinion, "it is the government that is extremely responsible for the progress of all state, social and economic reforms".
"Thus, I deem it correctly not to wait till the end of the election campaign, but to announce right now the composition of the supreme executive body of state power, which will undertake its part of the responsibility for our country's further development," the Russian leader said.
"Timely formation of the government will allow avoiding uncertainty in the structures of the federal executive power and consequently, maintaining the efficiency of the state staff, to preserve the acquired pace of reform, including within the launched administrative reform," he pointed out.
"In compliance with Article 111 of the Russian Constitution I intend to present a candidate for the Russian Prime Minister to the State Duma within the required period of time. A week after his appointment, the Prime Minister will have to submit to me his proposals on the new structure of the federal bodies of the executive power. Simultaneously I instruct the incumbent government to continue fulfilling their responsibilities until the new government of the Russian Federation is formed," Putin said.