Putin sees 'positive trends' in Russian economy

Moscow (AFP) –


Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said the Russian economy was showing "positive trends" but called on improving the "quality of people's lives" during a meeting with government ministers.

"The macro-economic situation in our country over the last five months is on the whole stable. Positive trends are seen in key ares," Putin said in televised comments.

But the Russian leader stressed that these "should not calm us".

"We always have to tell ourselves in these instances that not all people feel this, we need to be aware of this," he said.

He called for "setting a long-term trend to increase the sustainability and growth of quality in people's lives".

Putin named "increasing the wages of citizens" and "improving the effectivity of social support" as key issues.

Wages in Russia have fallen for four consecutive years as the Russian economy reeled from a crash in oil prices in 2014, along with international sanctions imposed over Moscow's actions in Ukraine.

Putin's approval ratings slumped by a record 14 percentage points according to a state pollster following a government proposal to raise the state pension age to 65 for men and 63 for women, the first such hike in almost nine decades.

After his March re-election, Putin issued a decree setting targets for his next six years in power. These included halving Russia's poverty rate, increasing pensions and boosting the average life expectancy to 78 by 2024.

While Russia returned to growth in 2017 after two years of recession, the country's economy pales in comparison with growth figures due to soaring oil prices seen during Putin's first two terms in office from 2000 to 2008.

Vladimir Putin has led Russia since 1999.