By Alexander Marrow

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Low wages and rising prices are crucial issues for Russians at parliamentary elections this week, but maintaining financial stability matters more to the Kremlin than driving growth, economists say, with inflation a lingering concern.

The Sept. 17-19 election, the last major vote before a presidential poll in 2024, comes as Russia is recovering from its worst economic downturn in more than a decade, the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and low prices for oil, its major export.

With vaccinations underway and commodity prices recovering this year, the economy is growing faster than previously expected, expanding 10.3% year-on-year in the second quarter.

Inflation has remained stubbornly high despite five interest rate hikes this year, reaching an annual

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