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Number Of Russians In Poverty Hits Decade-High

Men eat during a charity event distributing meals for homeless people in Stavropol
Men eat during a charity event distributing meals for homeless people in Stavropol

The number of Russians living in poverty reached 19.8 million last year, the highest in a decade, as the economy struggled through a recession following a sharp oil-price drop and the imposition of Western sanctions over Moscow's actions in Ukraine.

The number of impoverished Russians rose by 300,000 in 2016, according to figures released on April 5 by the state statistics service, Rosstat.

Last year, more than 13 percent of the population earned incomes below the minimum deemed acceptable, which was defined during the fourth quarter as 9,691 rubles ($171) a month.

It was the highest level of poverty since 2006, when 21.6 million were surviving on less than the minimum income. But it was down by half from the poverty level of more than 40 million in 2000.

The poverty level stood at 16.1 million in 2014, the year world oil prices collapsed and Western countries imposed sanctions on Russia over its seizure of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. Russia responded by banning many Western goods.

The recession has been accompanied by soaring prices that severely hit consumers' purchasing power, though the ruble has risen in recent months.

With so many Russian scraping to get by, consumer spending remains sluggish despite a recent uptick in economic activity.

Based on reporting by AFP and

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