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World Bank: Russian Economic Woes, Growing Poverty 'Undoing Nearly Decade's Worth Of Gains'

  • RFE/RL

The World Bank says an estimated 3.1 million Russians have slipped below the poverty line as the country's economy struggles with low global oil prices and international sanctions.

The assessment, made in a report released on April 6, said gross domestic product shrank 3.7 percent last year, and predicted it will contract another 1.1 percent this year.

The continued increase in poverty would return rates to their 2007 levels, the bank said, "undoing nearly a decade's worth of gains."

The analysis was the latest data to highlight how much the Russian economy has struggled over the past two years.

The struggles have sent the Kremlin scrambling to trim budgets. In March, Russian news reports said the defense budget would be cut by 5 percent, which, if true, would be the largest reduction since President Vladimir Putin took office in 2000.

The woes haven't significantly dented Putin's popularity, but there are indications the Kremlin fears social unrest in the run-up to September parliamentary elections.

On the upside, the bank predicted the Russian economy would return to tepid growth of 1.9 percent in 2017.