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Putin: Must pay special attention to containing Russian inflation

Russian President Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via video link in Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday said that special attention needed to be paid to containing price rises, while pointing out that inflation was trending lower.

The central bank is widely expected to keep interest rates on hold at 16% at its rate-setting meeting on Feb. 16, after hiking rates by 850 basis points since July in the face of stubborn inflation pressure from labour shortages, rouble weakness and high budget spending.

"Of course, special attention should be paid to inflation, its containment," Putin said in a televised meeting at which Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina also appeared following a weeks-long, unexplained public absence.

Putin noted the central bank and government's actions when pointing out that inflation was now trending lower. He said annual inflation in January was 7.2%, down from 7.4% at the end of 2023.

Russia's economy rebounded sharply from a slump in 2022, annual data showed on Wednesday, but the growth relies heavily on state-funded arms and ammunition production and masks problems that are hampering an improvement in Russians' living standards.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Gareth Jones and Hugh Lawson)