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In Annual Report, Medvedev Says Russian Economy Avoided Catastrophe

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev speaks during his annual address to the State Duma on April 19.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has promised not to raise taxes in 2017 and vowed to consider indexing retirement payments for working pensioners, delivering a moderately upbeat annual report on the troubled economy.

Addressing the lower house of parliament on April 19, Medvedev said the Russian economy had avoided "catastrophe" despite low world oil prices and Western sanctions over Moscow's interference in Ukraine.

Russian officials predict the economy will show moderate growth in 2017 after more than two years in recession.

Medvedev, in his second stint as President Vladimir Putin's prime minister, is under scrutiny following a report by Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny that accused him of corruption and fueled large street protests on March 26.

Openly challenged by a Communist lawmaker about the allegations, Medvedev said he would not comment on the "false statements of political adventurers."

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov criticized Medvedev ahead of the address in the State Duma, saying his government is incapable of "efficiently handling financial, economic and social matters."

Life has improved only for "the rich, millionaires, and billionaires whose income grew by 20-30 percent over the year," Zyuganov said.

With reporting by Interfax
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