MOSCOW -- The Russian ruble's precipitous decline this week means it now has the dubious distinction of being the world's worst performing currency.
And the central bank's dramatic hike in its benchmark interest rate has done nothing to stem the freefall.
RFE/RL hit the streets of the Russian capital to ask Muscovites why they think their currency is shedding value -- and whether the authorities are up to sorting the problem out.
Maria Ivanova, 70, a pensioner:
Maria Ivanova (she did not want her face photographed)
"It's the European Union [that is to blame] with its sanctions. That's my personal opinion. Ukraine is also to blame for starting all this rubbish. [Falling oil prices] are also playing a role."
"Everything is connected. [It would all be better] if everything was normal and stable, if everyone hadn't thrown themselves at a single little [country]. We're not small. We're like a bear. But if you attack a bear from all sides, he gets weaker. But I think we'll rise up."
"I really sympathize with [President Vladimir] Putin. Things are really difficult for him at the moment and I really sympathize. But still, God willing, I think we will make it through this."
Oksana, 42, who works in online advertising:
"I think it is because of the sanctions against Russia. That's why the ruble rate against the dollar is falling. It's strange though -- the price of oil is going down and the price of petrol is going up [in Russia]. It seems like there's a crisis in the country."
"To be honest, I don't think [the authorities are prepared to handle the situation]. At the moment, they are trying to prop up the ruble, but it's all artificial."
"Crises happen in countries once in every five, six or so years. This is happening because of sanctions. The ruble hasn't yet got stronger, but I'm going to hope it does."
Denis and Aleksandr are sales managers in a Moscow telecommunications company.
Denis (right) and Aleksandr
RFER/RL: Why is the ruble falling?
Denis: "Oil is falling."
RFER/RL: Is that the only reason?
Denis: "That's it."
Aleksandr: "This is probably to be expected. We're a resource economy."
Denis: "It’s because of sanctions as well as oil."
RFER/RL: Do you think the authorities are able to sort this out?
Denis: "I’m not sure."
Aleksandr: "I'm not ready to answer that question yet. Perhaps they are able, but I'm not 100 percent sure."
Natalya, 30, who works in the service sector:
"American democracy is to blame. It's the machinations of those stupid Americans. In actual fact, everything is fine in this country. And everyone will have a brilliant mood for New Year and it's all going to be okay."
Asked if she thinks the Kremlin will cope with the crisis, Natalya replied simply: "Of course, we have powerful authorities."
WATCH: More Ruble Vox Pops From The Streets Of Moscow