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Medvedev To Russians: Don't 'Panic' Over Ruble's Fall

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev speaks during a live interview, broadcast on national TV.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev speaks during a live interview, broadcast on national TV.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has called on Russians "not to panic" and to keep their savings in rubles despite the Russian currency's sharp decline.

In an annual interview televised live on December 10, Medvedev said Western sanctions against Russia over its conduct in Ukraine had contributed to the fall of the ruble, which has fallen about 40 percent against the dollar this year and has plumbed new lows frequently in recent weeks.

Medvedev reiterated Russian warnings that the sanctions are also harmful to European nations, saying European countries had lost up to $40 billion as a result.

He said that "according to Russian experts' calculations, Europe will lose another $50 billion next year."

Russian retaliation to the sanctions has included a ban on most food imports from nations that have hit it with sanctions.

Medvedev said many Russians who had bet against the ruble in the past had often lost money in the long run.

He also promised that the government would index pensions and state salaries to compensate for the ruble's fall, which has also been accelerated by a decline in world oil prices -- a major Russian export.

But in another sign of Kremlin concerns that Russia's economic woes are causing discontent, President Vladimir Putin lashed out at energy companies on December 9 over rising gasoline prices.

He said gasoline prices had risen about 10 percent over the previous year as of December 1, while oil prices have fallen sharply.

Putin said: "How can that happen? And where is the Federal Antimonopoly Service looking?"

Medvedev gave no sign that Russia would alter its behavior as a result of the sanctions, which were imposed over Moscow's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March and its support for pro-Russian separatists whose conflict with government forces in eastern Ukraine has killed more than 4,300 people since April.

He said Crimea was Russia's "destiny" and blamed the United States for the severe tension in the relationship between the nuclear-armed nations.

"The current American administration is behaving inappropriately and unpredictably," he said.

He said "the Americans" are "imposing sanctions against our country, they are trying to hammer together an unfriendly front against Russia. These are unfriendly activities, this is absolutely evident."

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