Russian media note growing panic over rouble

Moskovskyi Komsomolets front page Image copyright Moskovskyi Komsomolets
Image caption "The rouble screams for retribution: who will the president sack?" asks Moskovskyi Komsomolets

The Russian media say that fear is growing in the country over the falling rate of the rouble, with commentators split on whether efforts by the Central Bank to halt to decline of the currency have been effective.

TV channels are constantly updating viewers on the rouble exchange rate, while papers try to analyse what some say is the biggest depreciation of the national currency in the country's history.

'Embattled rouble'

English-language TV channel RT seemed to breathe a sigh of relief on Tuesday, reporting that "the embattled Russian rouble" had regained some losses from the previous day. This, however, turned out to be a short-lived victory as the currency soon started to lose value again.

Image copyright Rossiya 24
Image caption Rossiya 24 TV accused Russian banks of trying to 'capitalise' on the currency crisis

The business channel RBK pointed out that Russian banks have started reviewing their own interest rates, following the huge hike in the Central Bank's interest rate on Monday.

Rossiya 24 TV even accused some of them of trying to "capitalise" on the currency crisis "at any cost", after they set up exchange rates much higher than those of the Central Bank.

"The rouble has never depreciated that much in the history of the Russian Federation," exclaims influential business daily Kommersant.


Financial newspaper Vedomosti warns that the situation is very dangerous. "Now even those households who do not watch TV… are thinking about the depreciating rouble [and] food prices going up. Keeping foreign currency under one's pillow amid such volatility is much better than having a rouble deposit in a bank," the daily says.

It predicts that "we are only a few days away from a fully-fledged run on the banks".

Centrist daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta argues that the Central Bank itself has undermined the credibility of the rouble.

"Constant references by Central Bank officials about conversations with exporters are a sign of an obvious shortage of dollars on the currency market," it writes.

The business daily RBK agrees that "apparent panic" at the Central Bank has "stimulated panic on the market".

Image copyright BBC Monitoring
Image caption Russian newspapers RBK and Novaya Gazeta commented on the grim financial situation

"It is like poker - you need persuasiveness," economist Yevgeniy Nadorshin tells the popular tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, adding that "nobody believed" the bank when it said it had the situation under control.

State-owned Rossiyskaya Gazeta, however, is positive about the Central Bank's decision to raise the interest rate, quoting experts as saying that the currency would soon stabilise.

In the liberal daily Novyye Izvestiya, financial ombudsman Pavel Medvedev agrees that "the Central Bank's measure is a desperate and brave decision that should improve the situation on the currency market".

He adds, however, that there are many factors beyond its control. "The Central Bank is not to blame for the fact that the government imposed a ban on food products from the EU and the USA and, thus, accelerated inflation," he explains.

Putin's fault?

The liberal Novaya Gazeta is more direct in pinning the blame on the Kremlin. "The rouble is worth exactly as much as Putin's authority is worth in the eyes of the market. Voters can be deceived, but the market cannot," it comments.

Popular daily Moskovskiy Komsomolets notes that "the feeling that Putin is a sort of magician who can control everything is gone" and warns that "a harsher, more anxious and less joyful and poorer period in our life is beginning".

"This country will finally feel the cost of the life-changing decision to annex Crimea," the paper concludes.

Business daily Kommersant agrees, predicting that the currency crisis might lead to a political one.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption 'The dollar is ours', 'The Euro is ours' declare these comedic rouble notes, in reference to the recent Kremlin slogan 'Crimea is ours'
Image copyright Twitter
Image caption "A man jumped out of the window because he’s got a rouble account, but is still falling much slower than the currency," says this satirical tweet

Many Russian internet users are also pointing the finger of blame at the Russian president.

"Putin is so deafeningly silent that it's clear he doesn't understand a thing now," opposition politician Vladimir Milov tweets.

Celebrity journalist Kseniya Sobchak is heavy with sarcasm on Instagram: "Everyone is panicking, but nothing horrible is going to happen. We'll just become a kind of snowy Cuba."

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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