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Russian Mortgage Holders Announce Hunger Strike

Protesters hold placards during a rally by foreign-currency mortgage holders at Raiffeisen Bank in Moscow in February last year.

Eight Russians have announced a hunger strike at a Moscow branch of Austria's Raiffeisenbank.

Yulia Yermakova, coordinator of the All-Russia Movement Of Hard-Currency Mortgage Holders, announced on June 6 that the eight borrowers are demanding that their debts be converted into rubles and that all penalties for late payments be waived.

Bank officials were demanding that the protesters leave the building.

Many Russians with loans denominated in foreign currencies have faced severe difficulties as the ruble lost much of its value over the last three years.

The economic slowdown has been driven by low global energy prices and the effects of Western sanctions introduced after Moscow annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea and extended political and military support to separatists in eastern Ukraine.

In March 2017, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said people borrowing in foreign currencies should be aware of the risks involved.