SOCHI, Russia, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Russian Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said Saturday economic growth has been flat and there are "no visible signs of change for the better."
The Russian economy expanded 1.5 percent in the first eight months of the year compared to the same period in 2012, but growth was flat month-to-month on a seasonally adjusted basis, RIA Novosti reported.
At an international investment conference in Sochi, in southern Russia, Ulyukayev said he expected the unemployment rate to grow from the current 5 percent to 6 percent in 2014.
Annual inflation in September held steady at 6.2 percent. Ulyukayev said it was expected to come in at 6.1 percent to 6.2 percent in October.
He said August was "worse than July."
"There are no visible signs of change for the better," he said.
Ulyukayev said Russia will use its membership in the World Trade Organization to aggressively protect domestic producers.
Russia became the 156th member of the WTO in August 2012. Ulyukayev said Russia can use the international organization as "an instrument to protect the interest of our producers and exporters."
He said there are about 70 restrictive policies Russia could target through the WTO that would assist Russian companies.
"We are working to have them lifted. Last year, 16 such measures were lifted and another five in the first half of this year," he said.