MOSCOW, Russia (AP) — One of Russia's top officials says the economy is "not in tatters," as President Barack Obama claimed earlier this year.
The Russian economy, battered by Western sanctions and lower oil prices, is expected to contract by 3.9 percent this year and grow by only 0.7 percent next year, according to the government. The average income has declined this year for the first time in President Vladimir Putin's 15 years in power.
"The Russian economy is not in tatters, despite what several of our partners have said, but I can't say the economy is feeling well," Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov told the Russian parliament on Wednesday, according to Russian news agencies.
Officials bristled at President Barack Obama's claim in this state of the union address that Russia's economy was "in tatters."
"Of course we are expecting a slump and a curtailment of real incomes for Russians," Shuvalov said, but the situation is "completely under the government's control."
Shuvalov quoted government statistics saying that the labor market is stable and the unemployment rate is down to 5.2 percent, from 5.3 percent September. The unemployment rate in October last year was 5.1 percent.
Due to the decrease in disposable income and a slump in consumption, the World Bank expects the national poverty rate in Russia to increase from 10.8 percent in 2013 to 14.2 percent in 2015 and 2016.