Andrei Klepach, a deputy economics minister, said that the GDP decline in March also equaled 9.5%.
Klepach said the substantial decline in the first quarter was attributable to the slump in construction (a decline of about 20%) and lower tax revenues. The GDP also shrank due to reduced investment and retail trade volumes, Klepach said.
The economics ministry expects the country's GDP to decline 8.7-10% in April-June 2009 as compared with the same period of last year, Klepach said, adding, however, that the Russian economy "was beginning to rebound."
According to the ministry's estimates, Russia's economy will grow by 1.3% to 2.8% in the second quarter of 2009 as compared with January-March 2009.
Klepach said that the economics ministry would revise downwards its forecast of the country's GDP decline from the current 2.2%, adding that the figure given by the IMF was quite realistic.
The IMF issued a report earlier this week, saying that Russia's economy would shrink 6% in 2009 and grow 0.5% in 2010.
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Russia has become very adept in playing the diplomatic game, in which victory depends on choosing the right associate or partner. But there are a growing number of claimants to this role in the new horizontal and interdependent world. Aside Syria and Iran, being still important, the new venues for the application of practical diplomacy may well be Ukraine, the East China Sea and Afghanistan.