MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The recession in the Russian economy is over, and the country has entered a period of growth, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at his annual "Direct Line" session.
"Is the economic crisis over? I really want to answer positively, of course, I really want to send a positive message to society, and at the same time, you always think, what if suddenly something would happen, a malfunction would happen somewhere. But we must, of course, proceed while drawing conclusions of this kind, on objective data, and what objective data says. It says that the recession in the Russian economy has been overcome," Putin said.
"And we moved on to a period of growth," the president added.
Russia’s economic structure and low labor productivity remain unresolved issues of the Russian economy, Putin said.
"We have unresolved problems in the economy, and they first of all affect the income of people. What are these problems? The structure of the economy, which does not satisfy us, and in this regard we can talk about low labor productivity. If we do not increase it, then there will be no new jobs, and then the revenues will not increase. This is the key issue," Putin said.
On April 18, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its World Economic Outlook report that Russian economic growth is expected to pick up in 2017 — 2018 and will reach 1.4 percent for both years.
"The real income of citizens has declined over recent years. And what it is especially alarming is that the number of people below the poverty line, whose income is lower than the minimum wage, has also grown," Putin said.
The Russian leader recalled that the worst situation in terms of poverty was seen in the 1990s, when almost third of Russians, or about 40 million of people, were below the poverty line, while the best figure was registered in 2012, when only 10.7 percent of the population was below the poverty line.
"The level of [economic] decline [in Russia] was rather significant that is why it is difficult to feel the economic growth at once. I consider that this problem is the most important and pressing," Putin said, answering a question when the Russian citizens would feel the economic growth.
The president added that at the same time the real wages in the country had grown by 0.7 percent in 2016, while this April the growth amounted to 2.3-2.4 percent.
The real income of the Russians has been decreasing since 2014, however the Russian Economic Development Ministry expects that the real income of the citizens will grow by 1 percent in 2017.