Russia's economy shrinks 3.1% in 2020, sharpest contraction in 11 years

MOSCOW, Feb 1 (Reuters) - The Russian economy shrank by 3.1% in 2020 amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, its sharpest contraction in 11 years, the first estimate provided by the state statistics service showed on Monday.

Analysts polled by Reuters in late 2020 expected Russia’s GDP to shrink by 3.7%, while the economy ministry had last predicted that GDP would contract by 3.9%.

Economic contraction in 2020 “was related to restrictive measures aimed at fighting the coronavirus and to a drop in global demand for energy resources,” statistics service Rosstat said.

Russia saw deeper economic contractions of 7.8% and 5.3% in 2009 and 1998, respectively. Between 2000 and 2008, Russia’s economy grew on average by around 7% a year.

In early 2020, before prices for oil, Russia’s key export, slumped and the COVID-19 pandemic gained pace, the economy ministry had predicted GDP to grow by 1.9% after 2.0% growth in 2019.

The economy ministry expects GDP to return to growth in 2021, expanding by 3.3%. (Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh and Darya Korsunskaya; Editing by Toby Chopra)