Russian Ruble Drops to Almost 5-Year Low Against Euro

The Russian ruble has hit an almost five-year low against the euro Tuesday as coronavirus cases surged and geopolitical risks weighed down on Russian assets.

The ruble shed more than 1% against the euro to fall as low as 93.3, its weakest since January 2016.

The ruble also fell by 1% to 79.8 against the U.S. dollar, its weakest since March 2020, when oil prices crashed on weak demand.

The Russian currency’s poor performance continues from last week, when markets were on edge over a surge in coronavirus cases across Europe.

Appetite for the ruble previously plunged following anti-government protests in neighboring Belarus and the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Both events raise the prospects of new sanctions against Russia.

Analysts also say that investors are being kept at bay by the prospect of sanctions over the upcoming U.S. presidential elections.

The Kremlin on Monday attributed the ruble’s drop to market volatility and expressed confidence in its recovery.

Barbed-Wire Police Protest Lands Russian Performance Artist in Jail

A Russian performance artist has been jailed a second time for attempting to stage a barbed-wire stunt in protest of police overreach in central Moscow last month, the OVD-Info police-monitoring website reported Monday.

Authorities detained Pavel Krisevich on Sunday immediately after he finished serving a two-week administrative arrest on charges of disobeying police orders with the stunt on Old Arbat Street, a popular pedestrian zone.

Footage of Krisevich’s Jan. 24 detention shows him screaming “down with the police state” as a plainclothes person attempts to drag him out of the barbed-wire ball he had locked himself in. Eyewitness journalists reported that one officer pinned their knee on Krisevich’s neck while another tried to suffocate another correspondent with a piece of the barbed wire.

The stunt, dubbed “The Realm of the Russian Person’s Soul,” came a day after thousands of Russians nationwide were detained in the first wave of mass protests in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Moscow’s Presnensky District Court, the same body that jailed him last month, on Monday found Krisevich guilty of repeatedly violating protest rules and handed him 25 days of administrative arrest.

Krisevich’s stunt follows another high-profile performance in November that saw him stage a half-naked crucifixion with burning liquid outside the Federal Security Service (FSB) headquarters.

A Moscow court had convicted him of disobeying police orders and jailed him for 15 days at the time. The elite People’s Friendship University of Russia voted to expel Krisevich over the “embarrassing” November stunt.

In August, Krisevich “hanged” himself off a bridge in St. Petersburg in support of Russian and Belarusian political prisoners.

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