MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that the government would not allow gasoline prices to grow “without reason”, according to local news agencies.
Russians are very sensitive about the price of transport fuel in a country which extends over 11 time zones.
“By no means should the producers and the sellers be allowed to hike prices and it is obvious that they (prices) should be economically proven,” he told workers at the giant Lebedinsky iron ore mine in the Belgorod region in southern Russia, according to Interfax.
“But it would also be inexpedient to cut them artificially and even harmful for the economy as a whole.”
Russian fuel retailers have complained that the authorities have told them to ensure any price rises do not exceed inflation in what is a pre-election year, a demand they say amounts to a price freeze and may bankrupt some independent outlets.
Putin is widely expected to run for what would be a fourth presidential term in March next year. If he does, he is expected to win comfortably, but the authorities are known to be keen to ensure a high turnout amid signs of voter apathy.
Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Greg Mahlich