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Russian Recession Has Started: Official

Russian news agencies quote a senior economic official as saying that Russia faces at least two quarters of economic decline and is therefore in recession.

RIA-Novosti and Interfax quote Deputy Economics Minister Andrei Klepach as saying, "The recession has started already." Klepach also reportedly said the economy will expand by less than the projected 6.8 percent this year.

Russia's economy grew by 8.1 percent in 2007, fueled by the country's oil and metals sectors.

Oil prices have plummeted since a summer high of $147 a barrel, and Russia's industrial sector has been heavily hit by falling demand for metals, construction materials and other products.

Recessions are normally declared retroactively after two quarters of negative growth.