Europe

Russian media ponder rouble plunge

Russian newspaper front pages Image copyright BBC Monitoring
Image caption Russia's state media appear to be playing down the central bank's move to raise rate

Russia's main state-run TV channels have reported prominently on the central bank's move to raise interest rates to 17% in an emergency move to support the national currency.

The bank's move comes after the rouble plummeted 10% against the US dollar on Monday - its sharpest fall since the 1990s. This is seen by analysts as a sign that the economy is beginning to show the strain of low oil prices and Western sanctions.

On Tuesday afternoon state-run rolling news channel Rossiya 24 was leading its bulletin with a quote by central bank head Elvira Nabiullina who said the rouble was now being "undervalued according to all basic parameters". The presenter said "passions should now subside".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Since the start of the year, the rouble has lost almost 50% of its value against the US dollar

Experts on Rossiya 1 were quoted as saying the bank's latest move was "an attempt to calm the markets."

NTV announced that "the 100-rouble record is broken: the euro has reached a psychologically important mark, but rouble is rising now".

The more liberal TV stations however suggested a recession was now on the cards. Equally pessimistic predictions were offered by the main newspapers in the country.

Dramatic' move

The story was given prominence on the English-language Russia TV.

Its presenter announced the move showing a graph of the rouble's fluctuations, captioned "Dramatic move".

Image copyright RT
Image caption RT seemed to give much more prominence to the story

The business channel RBK quoted experts as saying that "Russia will not be able to avoid recession in 2015".

'Panic'

Among the major newspapers, the business daily Vedomosti seemed least concerned about the implications, acknowledging the "rouble flight" following the 10% drop, but saying the "panic" on the currency market was not justified.

However, other newspapers appeared to be more worried.

In an article headlined "R100 for one dollar no longer fantasy", the centrist daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta noted that the rouble continued to fall despite a small rise in oil prices, adding that experts did not rule out the possibility that soon a dollar could be worth R100.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Russia's central bank has previously tried unsuccessfully to stabilise the currency

"The rouble has never given up its positions so absolutely," said the influential business daily, Kommersant.

"Amid apprehensions of new US sanctions and a slump in oil prices even die-hard optimists are giving up hope that the collapse of the rouble will stop and are losing interest in the Russian currency," the paper added.

New digital monitors needed

Some outlets even tried to inject a bit of humour into the situation.

The RBK newspaper carried a large photo of Russian coins - kopecks - with a sarcastic headline: "Happy New Year 1999"

Pro-Kremlin daily Izvestiya reported that currency exchange offices were buying new digital monitors which will enable them to display more digits as some experts expect the rouble to drop even further in 2015.

Some social media users wonder what impact the fall might have on the government.

Image copyright Twitter

"Lucky day! Rouble fell a little bit to 80 per euro, and 65 per dollar. But state budget revenues just increased! Putin must be filled with joy," Vladislav Naganov - who has over 30,000 followers - tweets.

Image copyright Twitter

"Do I get it right that Putin, Medvedev, the government, the Bank of Russia are dumbstruck by all they have seen today, prominent economist Sergey Akeksahenko says on his account.

Image copyright Twitter

"Flea market will replace stock market," quips Ivan Davydov, a user with 19,000 followers.

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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