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President Vladimir Putin warns of tough times

President Vladimir Putin warns of tough times
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Be prepared for hard times. That was one message for Russians from President Vladimir Putin in his state-of-the nation address to parliament. He urged self-reliance with the nation gripped in an economic chill.

Figures from the Federal Statistics Service in Moscow show inflation accelerated more than economists predicted reaching the fastest pace since June 2011. Consumer prices surged 9.1 percent from a year earlier in November compared with 8.3 percent in October.

The president announced a range of measures including what one commentator referred to as a remarkable call for a one off amnesty.

“I propose a full amnesty for capitals returning to Russia. It means that if a person legalizes his capital and property in Russia he will get firm guarantees that he will not be pursued or asked about the source of revenue, he will not be brought to justice or face taxation issues. Let us do it now but only once,” Putin told parliament.

Russians may have been impressed investors were not. The rouble weakened again, by mid-afternoon it was 1.6 percent lower on the day against the dollar. Over the past year it has lost around 40 percent of its value against the dollar.

Falling oil prices have hit the country hardest and in an effort to boost the economy Putin announced a four-year freeze on tax rates to help businesses. He predicted budget cuts of at least 5 percent over the next three years.