Veteran Rosstat Official Quits after Early Data Release Scandal

A senior Russian statistics official resigned after an internal probe in Rosstat revealed that the country’s Federal Statistics Agency had regularly disclosed key data well before official release times, Forbes Russia reported.

Yevgeny Sychev, a 45-year veteran of Rosstat, quit after the probe’s results were announced, the Economy Ministry said in a statement late Wednesday. The ministry, which oversees Rosstat, had called for an investigation Monday after the Bank of Russia published inflation data for June an hour before Rosstat was scheduled to release it. But the central bank said it had found the information on the statistics agency’s website hours earlier.

According to Rosstat’s website, Evgeny Sychev first came to the agency in 1974. In 2000, he was appointed director of the state statistics service.

“The investigation showed that the situation with premature release of data in the central statistical database happened regularly (approximately 1-2 times a year),” Rosstat chief Pavel Malkov wrote in a letter to Economy Minister Maxim Oreshkin released by the ministry. Malkov said new procedures are being prepared to prevent early releases in the future.

The Economy Ministry has vowed to overhaul Rosstat, which has faced criticism for a string of revisions and results that raised suspicions it could be massaging data to suit Kremlin goals. Rosstat officials have denied any political influence on the numbers and vowed to improve their quality.

Early data releases could provide market players unfair advantages, according to Natalya Orlova, chief economist at Alfa Bank in Moscow. “Inflation data are important for understanding future key-rate decisions and they influence the FX market indirectly,” she told Bloomberg.