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Moscow — Surprisingly optimistic figures from Russia’s statistics agency have alarmed some investors, who say data on the Russian economy appears to have become less accurate and more biased towards good news during the country’s long recession. Some say the problem could now get worse, after President Vladimir Putin shifted oversight of statistics agency Rosstat to the economy ministry, which is charged with delivering 2% growth this year after two years of contraction. Rosstat surprised economists by recording GDP contraction of just 0.2% last year, much shallower than expected, and by revising the previous year’s contraction to just 2.8% from an initial 3.7%. It has also delayed many data releases since the start of the year, twice reporting industrial output at the weekend after switching to a new methodology. In late March, economy minister Maxim Oreshkin called the switch to the new methodology "extremely unsuccessful" and said Rosstat’s data for January and February might hav...

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