The city's police chief and top prosecutor were fired Monday in the wake of a prominent TV journalist's murder and blamed for failing to stop the spread of organized crime.

The firing of Moscow chief prosecutor Gennady Ponomaryov and police chief Gen. Vladimir Pankratov came four days after President Boris Yeltsin urged their ouster, saddened by the killing of Vladislav Listyev and angered by "raging crime."While conceding his own government also was at fault, Yeltsin berated Moscow officials for the capital's runaway crime.

Mayor Yuri Luzhkov defended the two city officials and said in a TV interview that Yeltsin spoke under "the influence of emotions." But the Kremlin has the ultimate say in hiring decisions involving the two posts.

The firings highlighted a growing power struggle between federal and local leaders.

The national prosecutor-general's office said in a statement that Ponomaryov was being fired for "the failure to provide proper organization of the work to uncover and investigate grave crimes."

The interior minister issued a separate statement firing the Moscow police chief.

Ponomaryov, 49, has been city prosecutor since 1989. His deputy was named interim replacement.

The chairman of the security committee in the State Duma or lower house of parliament criticized Ponomaryov's firing, calling him honest and decent and saying he was released for refusing to bow to the Kremlin's demands.

"A removal of this figure or any other cannot help the crime problem - we need radical changes in economic policy," said Viktor Ilyukhin, a communist.