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Russian bread inflation termed artificial

Artificial increases are pushing up Russia's domestic grain and bread prices, leading to unfounded supply fears, a Russian official said Tuesday.

“Russia's grain reserves as of July 1 this year are larger than last year and (the Russian Federal Statistics Service) has published this information,” statistics service director Vladimir Sokolin said. The rise in grain and bread prices has no economic basis, he told the Itar-Tass news agency. Some businesses not only ignore this fact but use the mass media to stir up inflationary expectations, Sokolin said. “Everybody for some reason has forgotten that since 1992 Russia has had no food crises, and its export potential currently reaches 10 (million) to 15 million tons of grain,” Sokolin told Itar-Tass. Even if Russia does have a poor harvest, it could compensate by lowering exports, he said. Sokolin also said his agency, also known as Rosstat, would probably conduct a nationwide economic census in 2009, depending on budgetary constraints. (