The Russian Agriculture Ministry has said it expects an agreement with the country's major retail chains to freeze prices on some basic foodstuffs to be formally signed this week.

The move is being taken to tackle rising food price inflation, stemming from the country's oil export boom and rising international food prices. However, the measures have been criticised by some economists as a throwback to the Soviet era.

Other measures being pondered include setting export tariffs on wheat and barley, selling grain from government stocks and cutting import duties on dairy products. Cutting the existing 15% import tariff on vegetable oil or imposing a tariff on sunflower oil exports are other measures being considered.

The Putin administration is concerned that the most recent upsurge in prices could push inflation into double digits just as the country prepares for parliamentary elections in December.

The foodstuffs covered by the price freeze will include milk, yoghurt, soured cream, bread, eggs, cheese, sugar and sunflower oil.