Many Russians are buying dollars and hoarding cash, increasingly concerned by a slide in the rouble and wary of possible restrictions on bank withdrawals as President Vladimir Putin blames currency woes on speculators and the West.
While there is little panic on the streets of Moscow and other major cities, some Russians are taking no chances with their money, with many hardened by a financial crisis in 1998 which wiped out the savings of millions of people.
The rouble has fallen more than 25 per cent against the dollar in 2014, with especially heavy losses in the past month when the currency repeatedly hit all-time lows despite the central bank spending around $30 billion to defend the currency.
Financial officials and the Kremlin have united in calling for calm, suggesting that speculators were to blame for the falling rouble, rather than tumbling oil prices or Western sanctions that have weakened the economy.
Putin has hinted that the global oil price has been deliberately manipulated to hurt Russia. Russian search engine Yandex said queries such as “what to do with roubles in 2015?” hit a record high of over 1.2 million on one day last week.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines