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Russia's economy has overcome peak of difficulties: Putin

[MOSCOW] Russia's economy has moved past the most challenging phase of its downturn and is facing no threat of a collapse, President Vladimir Putin said.

"The most important thing is - and this is obvious to everyone - that the fundamental base of the Russian economy has strengthened and its stability is absolutely impossible to destroy," Mr Putin said at a conference Tuesday in St Petersburg. "We have overcome the peak" of the difficulties.

Mr Putin is joining other Russian policy makers in highlighting the improved prospects for the world's biggest energy exporter. While sanctions imposed over the conflict in Ukraine continue to weigh on the economy, a rebound in oil prices helped reverse the ruble's declines and contributed to more upbeat projections. Even with Russia is still on track for its first recession in six years, the Economy Ministry last week forecast a 2.8 per cent decline in output this year, compared with 3 per cent of contraction it estimated earlier.

As an indicator of the stabilizing prospects, the ruble has gained about 18 per cent against the dollar this year, the best performance among more than 170 currencies tracked by Bloomberg. That compares with a 46 per cent plunge in 2014, the second worst behind the Ukrainian currency,hryvnia.

The improving economic outlook is already "affecting the ruble's exchange rate," rather than "the fluctuating price of oil," Mr Putin said.

The economy may return to growth in the forth quarter, as the dynamics of the real sector aren't so "catastrophic" as it seemed to most of experts and the government earlier, Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said April 23.