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In Fear of Sanctions, Russia's Central Bank Raises Key Interest Rate

Published: July 26, 2014 (Issue # 1821)



  • Russia's Central Bank raised its key interest rate to 8% on Friday.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Russia's Central Bank on Friday unexpectedly raised its key borrowing rate for a third time this year in expectation of heightened international economic sanctions against Russia over the unrelenting crisis in Ukraine.

Russia's main financial regulator increased the key rate from 7.5 to 8 percent, saying that even in the present situation of slowing economic growth, quelling inflation is its main priority.

The decision comes as Russia is embroiled in the worst political standoff it has seen with the West since the end of the Cold War. The downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in conflict-torn eastern Ukraine on July 17, which led to the deaths of all 298 people on board, has prompted the United States and European Union to consider more wide-ranging sanctions against Russia unless the government cooperates on de-escalating the conflict.

"Inflation risks have risen, connected, among other things, with the increased political tension and with its possible impact on the dynamics of the national currency rate, as well as with the changes in tax and tariff policies that are being discussed," the Central Bank said in a statement on its website.

"This decision is both unexpected and controversial," Alexander Morozov, chief economist for Russia and the CIS at HSBC, told The St. Petersburg Times.

EU ambassadors on Friday reached a preliminary decision to move ahead with economic sanctions, with likely measures to include closing off EU capital markets to state-owned banks and halting future arms sales to Russia, Reuters reported.

According to Morozov, raising the key interest rate was a drastic response to the phantom risk of sanctions, whose content and possible effects cannot yet be known.

"The Central Bank still had other means to deal with inflation, such as making its control of the banks more efficient," he said.

The Central Bank has already increased its key rate from 5.5 to 7 and then to 7.5 percent this year in an attempt to counter the impact that the depreciating ruble has had on the price of imports. The ruble fell 10 percent against the dollar and euro in the early months of this year but has since recovered some ground, hovering around 35.15 to the dollar and 47.18 to the euro on Friday evening.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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