Russia to see higher inflation in 2010 and after: minister

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The Russian finance minister on Monday raised Russia's 2010 inflation forecast to between 7.0 and 7.5 percent in the face of the country's worst ever drought.

"I think that inflation could rise to 7.0 percent, or even higher to 7.5 percent," Alexei Kudrin told Russian news agencies."

The ministry had previously forecast inflation of 6.0-7.0 percent in 2010.

"And next year, it will also be between 6.0 and 7.0 percent," Kudrin was quoted as saying.

Prices of basic foodstuffs like buckwheat and flour have soared in Russia over the past month as the effects of the drought hit supplies.

Inflation in Russia was 0.6 percent for the first three weeks in August, considerably higher than a year earlier, the state statistics office said.

Most alarmingly, the price of Russian staple buckwheat -- enjoyed by generations for breakfast or as an accompaniment to meat -- rose sharply by more than 8.0 percent.

The drought, caused by the hottest summer in Russia on record, has destroyed one quarter of the country's crops and prompted the government to slap a highly controversial ban on grain exports to protect domestic supplies.

© 2010 AFP

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