Russia’s gross domestic product contracted by 8.8% year-on-year in January, Russia’s economy minister said yesterday.

This was a sharply lower figure than many had expected, indicating that Russia’s economic downturn may be much deeper than previously thought.

The economy ministry predicts that GDP will contract by 2.2% in 2009, but following the January drop, this forecast 'is looking very optimistic', said Chris Weafer, a strategist at Uralsib, the Moscow investment bank.

Financial Times