, Boris Nemtsov, cast doubt on the premier's optimism, saying the shake-up was the result of deep-rooted divisions among influential Kremlin power brokers over the path of economic reforms. On Thursday, President Boris Yeltsin sacked Nemtsov, 38, and Anatoly Chubais, 42, seen in the West as guardians of reform, as energy and finance ministers respectively but kept the pair on in their posts of first deputy prime ministers. Last weekend, three allies of Chubais lost their jobs as privatisation minister, the head of the state banktrupcy agency and deputy chief of Yeltsin's staff in a scandal over fees they received, with Chubais, for an as yet unpublished book. Nemtsov, seen recently as Yeltsin's possible choice of successor, bowed to the Kremlin leader's will but suggested that the changes were a result of deep-rooted divisions among powerful establishment interests over economic strategy. The reformist team, parachuted into government eight months ago, proclaimed it would dramatically changing the rules of the game in the Russian economy fuelling resistance from many political, industrial and financial groups, particularly those that had benefited from favourably priced privatisation sales. The shake-up, which clearly upset the reformists and weakened them in the cabinet, nevertheless failed to satisfy the communist-led State Duma, the lower house of parliament. The Duma, which had asked Yeltsin to sack Chubais altogether, struck a debate on the draft 1998 budget from Friday's agenda and put it off until early December. The government see the successful passage of the budget as vital for achieving modest economic growth next year. The premier said he hoped it would be passed by the end of the year. On Thursday, Yeltsin appointed the liberal head of the Duma budget committee, Mikhail Zadornov, as a new finance minister. The president also urged the legislature to approve the budget.