- Consumer prices have been climbing since March last year, driven by a drop in the ruble's value after months of historically low inflation.
MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that he hopes a fresh harvest of fruits and vegetables will lower prices for produce in Russia, which has been hit hard by soaring inflation.
Surveys show that rising prices for staple goods has become a major preoccupation for Russians in recent months, and it was one of the first questions Putin fielded on Wednesday during his annual phone-in session.
"Soon there will be a new harvest," Putin said, addressing a woman who sent in a video filmed in a supermarket produce aisle.
"I hope that, thanks to the new harvest, prices for fruits and vegetables in Russia will decrease," he said.
High food prices are a particularly sensitive topic for the authorities ahead of parliamentary polls in September.
Observers say that rising poverty, falling incomes and lack of tangible government support during the pandemic are the key drivers of discontent with Putin's two-decade rule.
Putin said Wednesday that rising food prices were a global problem, but conceded that "vegetables and fruits are not produced in sufficient quantity in our country."
He added that the deficit meant that produce had been imported more than usual from Turkey and other countries.
Consumer prices have been climbing since March last year, driven by a drop in the ruble's value after months of historically low inflation.
In response, Russia's Central Bank in March began raising its historically low key interest rate -- a first since 2018.
But in May, inflation remained high at 6 percent compared to the previous year, with prices up among staple goods like sugar (42 percent), sunflower oil (30 percent) and eggs (28 percent).
The skyrocketing costs prompted Putin to order emergency measures to cap them -- a move that was criticised by the central bank.
On Wednesday, Putin conceded that the measure had its flaws.
"Food price regulation has had an effect, but unfortunately not for all groups of goods," he said.