Inflation in Russia, driven for months by a sharp rise in staple food prices, stabilized in March at 5.8% over one year, according to figures released Tuesday by the statistical agency Rosstat.
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In February, inflation had been 5.7% year on year, with consumer prices starting to rise since March 2020 - after months of historically low inflation - against the backdrop of the oil crisis, the fall of the ruble and global economic slowdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
If it stabilizes, inflation remains high for food products (+ 8.2%), especially basic products: sugar jumped by 48%, sunflower oil by 27%.
Global staple food prices rose in February for the ninth consecutive month, reaching their highest level since July 2014 according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
This is the result of a rise in commodity prices caused by hopes of an economic recovery after the pandemic, but also by unfavorable weather and supply chains weakened by the coronavirus crisis.
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In Russia, this development has been accompanied by a decline in purchasing power for years and the increase in prices brings back painful memories to Russians, marked by inflation out of control and empty supermarkets after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. Faced with the discontent that this can cause, the authorities have been looking into the problem since the end of 2020, in particular in the run-up to the legislative elections scheduled for September 2021.
President Vladimir Putin has publicly expressed concern about the sharp rise in the prices of certain food products and has instructed the government to prepare measures to regulate them.
This was followed by announcements of export quotas on cereals as well as wholesale and retail prices for sugar and sunflower oil.
The Russian central bank has set itself the medium-term objective of inflation of 4%.
To curb inflation, it unexpectedly raised its key rate in March for the first time since the end of 2018.