by Tatyana Orel
Ukraine closely watches the fall of the Russian rouble exchange rate. The hryvnia is falling, too. But there is war in Ukraine that complicates the challenging situation of the Ukrainian economy. Russia that is allegedly "not at war" with Ukraine sees the main reasons of the rouble decline in the reduction of the oil price that, according to Putin, is also followed by the gas prices, though Russia already acknowledges essential influence of the Western sanctions on its economy.
"It is not a retribution for the Crimea, it is retribution for our natural desire to survive as a nation, as a civilization and as a state," he declared during the annual press conference.
However, for the several hours that Putin was talking to journalists, the dollar became another three roubles more expensive. No matter how much he tried to put on a brave face, the Russians living only for a salary or pension understand that the living standard go down promptly. However, Russian mass media cover the topic of falling of the national currency in a cold manner without emotions –panic is not part of the concept of "strong" Russia.
The sore subject is avoided in the journalistic lobby, too.
So, there was an appeal not to comment on the current rouble rate on the door of the editorial office of the evening edition of Vesti program on the Russia channel. A photo of the announcement was uploaded to Twitter by the Director of the Russian Fund for Fight against Corruption Roman Rubanov.
"It is forbidden to pronounce the current rouble rate in this room!!! Everything will be fine with us! And with our relatives! Everything will be good in Russia!!! We entered the era of Aquarius, prosperity is waiting for us!!! Everybody!!! GLORY to RUSSIA," the announcement reads.
The managing director of Finam investment company Nikolay Solabuto predicted in a live TV program on the Dozhd channel slightly more than a month ago that the rouble will have fallen to 200 RUB/$ by March 2015.
GORDON contacted the financier to find out details of his forecast.
It turned out today that Nikolay Solabuto is convinced that everything is good in Russia, and there is nothing to worry about. "We are a cunning nation, we are great, we will win," he said in response to the question why Russians started buying up electronics and household appliances.
He is sure that "a third force" is to blame for the rouble fall, that its agents have already been identified and probably even arrested and that they have foreign names.
He is very proud of the fact that "the Crimea is ours" and assures that Russia does not spend anything on supporting the Crimea, that, on the contrary, it fills up the federal budget of Russia.
Well, the Russian world is an illness that spares neither presidents nor financiers nor average Russians who have quarreled with their Ukrainian friends and relatives.
The conversation about economy turned into a political dispute.
– Nikolay, what do you think is the connection between the prompt decline of the Russian rouble and events in Ukraine?
– There is a direct connection. All Western countries imposed sanctions against us thinking that we behaved with Ukraine incorrectly. It is not new, we have been living with it for half a year already.
– But why has the Russian government denied influence of the Western sanctions on the economy for a long time?
– But for the game aimed at weakening the national currency, both the dollar and the euro would be stable. And we would survive the sanctions all right. As our prime minister said, the sanctions would do good to our economy, and they will do good. Especially if the dollar rate remains higher than 33 roubles – it will be an additional barrier against importing goods. And it will not be Russia that will pay for it. It is for sure. The whole world will pay.
– Not so long ago, you shocked Russians with a forecast that the Russians will have to pay 200 roubles for one dollar in March. Is your forecast still applicable?
– If the conditions that were initially put in the model would not have changed, nothing of the kind would occur, of course. The Central bank allocates much less money for currency intervention now: if this amount was USD 30 billion a month before, now it is just under USD 3-4 billion. Accordingly, the rate started growing much more aggressively than was predicted in the estimates. However, I think that the situation will stabilize within a month. Everything is over, parties at fault have been identified. They must just be arrested and put in prison. It can take place next week already.
– And who are these parties at fault?
– The third force has its agents. They must be arrested and put in jail, then everything will be over. I live in Lefortovo, opposite the FSB (Federal Security Service) prison, I saw someone being taken in and out, so the process has begun.
– A witch-hunt?
– No. Nobody searches just for guilty people, they search for concrete criminals who broke the law. There are certain structures that opened banks in the territory of the Russian Federation where people brought money with high interest rates because they trusted the agencies that insured their deposits. These banks did nothing but exchanged money for foreign currency thanks and transferred money abroad which caused the aggression against the rouble. This situation has persisted since long ago, and these banks are well-known. A critical weight has accumulated now, and it is used in this game. Everybody understands who protect them. There will be a public process soon, I think, and everybody will know people who did all this. There will be foreign names.
– How do the Russians react to the fall of the rouble?
– Russian mass media write people started buying up household appliances and electronics…
– People do not have much spare cash now. Considerable sums of money are locked in bank deposits. They have enough money for buying electronics as it is still sold for old prices when the dollar cost 33 roubles. One must be a fool not to take advantage of it. I would go and buy furniture and electronics, I would burn all my credit cards. It is normal. We are a cunning, clever, and smart nation. We are great, we will win.
– But those who took credits in a foreign currency are definitely in panic…
– There are no such fools. Journalists simply need to invent something, to fabricate a story and to fray the nerves. I will be very surprised if you show me a person who took a credit in a foreign currency. Show and prove that it is the case.
– But there are definitely no such fools who would be happy that their salaries and pensions have considerably depreciated with the fall of the rouble. Can this situation cause disorders in Russia?
– No. When there was a similar situation in Brazil, India, and Turkey, it did not cause even the slightest disorders. In each of these states, people supported the country leaders during the difficult stages, though it was considered that there were mistakes of the government and the National Bank. And then it became clear that these were not mistakes but purposeful intervention from external forces. The same thing is happening in Russia now, and the whole nation supports the government though there is no direct evidence that it is aggression from third countries. But they will appear soon.
– You certain observe the situation in the Ukrainian economy…
– There is no economy at all there.
– You suggest that there is economy in Russia with imposed sanctions, and there is no economy in Ukraine?
– I understand: when a Black is called Black, he may take offence. But he was born this way, he cannot do a thing. One can only take offence at genetics.
– However, if Russia had not unleashed war against Ukraine, both countries would have fewer problems.
– There was a revolution in Ukraine that was financed by third forces, which led to such a deplorable situation. I cannot say that everything would be good without it, but one could work with you. Yes, it was bad, but it did not mean that the economy was destroyed completely. You would have gone through a crisis, and then the country would recover. However, as a result of the revolution, forces plundering the state came to power. It remains to wait when a progressive person will come and will start working for the people rather than foreigners.
– Did the Crimea break a financial gap in the Russian economy?
– Money does not go to the Crimea, but it rather goes from the Crimea to the federal budget. I do not understand what expenses you are speaking about. Well, we have changed passports, we have spent money on printing, so what? Is it big money? Everything will be good in the Crimea. The summer season showed that the flow of vacationers increased, I think that the budgetary surplus will only grow. The Crimea is a pearl, there might be investment for the construction of expensive hotels and resorts. It will be a like in a dream.
– It means that nobody links economic problems in Russia to the annexation of the Crimea?
– And inhabitants of the territories controlled by "DNR" and "LNR" begin to understand that the so-called republics have neither economic nor any other prospects. Ukraine refused to pay them pensions and salaries, Russia is not going to help either despite the promises of provokers. How do you think the "republics" will survive now?
– To begin with, Russia treats these territories as Ukrainian. It suggests the Ukrainian authorities make decisions that put forward "DNR" and "LNR" and established contacts with them. But only guns work there. You kill each other. Russia longs for a dialogue, it wants Kiev to hear them. Russia sees them only as part of Ukraine.
– If it is Ukrainian territory, what do Russian troops do there?
– Show me at least one Russian soldier, the concrete soldier Ivanov. Show him to the whole world. As Lavrov put it: if there are Russian troops there, show them on the TV. You say troops. You have wrong interpretation. I do not like to work with vulgar slogans, I like to work with facts. Film proofs from the satellite, send journalists there. There are a lot of people who sympathize with your regime who can film it on a phone.
– But it is not difficult to find out the truth today if one wants to do. There is more than enough video evidence on the Internet for mistrustful Russians. For example, this notorious story with the "lost" paratroopers...
– You are talking about ten frontier guards who got lost in a wood. And when your whole battalion along with equipment crossed the Russian border? It was recorded by the OSCE. These are incomparable facts. What were three hundred people doing in our territory? If it is aggression, we should have responded, but we did not do it. And if we had responded, our tanks would be on their way to Kiev. And what would Poroshenko do then? Would he chew his tie during a live broadcast like Saakashvili?
P.S. Especially for Nikolay Solabuto, GORDON publishes a video showing Russian paratroopers, who were detained in August in the territory of Donetsk region, admit that they were performing a mission of the commands.
He can find other evidence on the page of Gruz-200 group in Facebook and on various Russian cemeteries where Russian military personnel who were killed in Ukraine are buried. However, "special" people remove plates from the graves in order not to disappoint such people as Nikolay Solabuto. But one can talk to mothers and widows of the dead soldiers who have certainly nothing to hide.