Putin Offers Assurances On Inflation

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Sunday that a recent decision to boost the minimum wage "shouldn't have a serious effect" on inflation.

Speaking before State Duma deputies from the ruling United Russia party, which he leads, Putin said the recent decision to nearly double the minimum monthly wage from Jan. 1 to 4,430 rubles ($193) was a difficult one.

"It is, of course, connected to a certain extent with inflation, but we've decided to take that step," he said, according a statement posted on the party's web site.

"Government experts have determined that [the increase] shouldn't have a serious effect on inflation," he said, calling on United Russia to do more to explain its work -- including politically sensitive decisions -- to the people. "It would be extremely counterproductive to stick our heads in the sand, since a different part ... will be sticking out all the same," he said.

He also praised comments by State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov against slowing down the economy to contain inflation.

President Dmitry Medvedev said last week that prices were rising more than twice as fast as an original target of 5 to 6 percent per year but that Russia did not have "supernatural overheating."

Putin also told the deputies that although he often blames the country's economic problems on external factors during trips abroad, "We, too, carry a certain responsibility for them."