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Russia inflation slows in May: statistics agency

Annual inflation in Russia slowed to 17.1 percent in May from a two-decade high of 17.8 percent in April, the state statistics agency said on Wednesday.

Nevertheless, food price inflation, a huge concern for Russians on low incomes, picked up to 21.5 percent year-on-year last month from 20.5 percent in April, Rosstat said in a statement.

Sugar prices have gone up by 61.4 percent, pasta by 29.2 percent, and fruit and vegetables by 26.3 percent, the data showed.

Since President Vladimir Putin moved troops into Ukraine on February 24, Russia has been hit with a barrage of international sanctions, including embargoes on key exports, fuelling already high inflation.

Annual inflation could reach 23 percent this year before slowing down next year and returning to the target of four percent in 2024, the Central Bank has said.

Putin last month said that inflation would not exceed 15 percent for the year as a whole.

The price hikes have considerably undermined the purchasing power of everyday Russians who have little savings.

Retail sales fell by 9.7 percent in April year-on-year, data showed.

In late May, the central bank cut its key interest rate following an emergency meeting as authorities sought to rein in the ruble which has surged in value.

The central bank is scheduled to hold its next rate-setting meeting on Friday.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French state-owned international news agency based in Paris. It is the world's oldest news agency, having been founded in 1835 as Havas.

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