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Russian growth seen at 1.5-1.6 percent this year - minister

Alexey Ulyukayev, First Chairman of the Central Bank of Russia, speaks during a panel discussion at the VTB Capital investment conference in New York, April 18, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford

SEOUL (Reuters) - Russia's economy is likely to grow by 1.5-1.6 percent this year, Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said on Wednesday, below a government forecast of 1.8 percent that has already been revised down.

"It is highly likely that the annual result will turn out to be lower than our current forecast of 1.8 percent," Ulyukayev told reporters in Seoul, Korea. He said the shortfall would be in the range of 0.2-0.3 percentage points.

Ulyukayev has dialed back the government's assessment of Russia's long-term prospects, issuing a grim forecast last week that annual growth would average only 2.5 percent through 2030, down from a previous 4 percent.

Despite the oil-dependent economy's loss of momentum, inflation remains above the central bank's 5-6 percent target range, leading it to hold off making growth-boosting cuts in interest rates until price pressures abate.

Ulyukayev, speaking ahead of meeting on the economy to be chaired by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday, said he expected inflation to end the year at 6-6.1 percent, compared to an October reading of 6.3 percent.

(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Lidia Kelly)