Following an unsuccessful attempt to prop up the economy by means of an interest increase less than one week ago, the Russian Central Bank again moved to prop up the plummeting Russian ruble by raising the interest rate to 17%. The hike in interest rates coincided with value drops in the Russian ruble not seen since the Russian financial crisis in 1998, with latest statistics showing that the currency lost approximately 10% of its value against the dollar within a 24 hour period. The latest drop makes up for a nearly 20% drop in currency value against the dollar within the past week, with an overall drop of 50% during the calendar year.
Analysts have been quick to point out that Russia’s “public finances and reserves” are currently much stronger than they were on the eve of the 1998 financial crisis, but that the state of currency in Russia suggests that a larger, more pronounced currency crisis may be in store if the Russian economic situation does not improve. Russian Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev has been quick to eschew talk of controls on Ruble-for-dollar exchanges, though the situation does not appear to be ameliorating despite the dramatic central bank interest increase.
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- Seven members of the Pakistani Taliban scaled the back wall of a public school in Peshawar and opened fire on schoolchildren. Early casualty estimates place the dead at 141, with 132 of them children. The attack, which took place at an army-run school in Peshawar, was claimed by the Taliban as retaliation for recent Pakistani military actions against the group in the border regions nearest to Afghanistan. The attack is the bloodiest such Taliban-led offense on Pakistani soil.
- Russian security forces clashed again with militants in Dagestan in Russia’s turbulent southwest. The leader of a branch of the militant group Imarat Kavkaz (Caucasus Emirate) was killed along with four other militants who had been sought by Russia’s FSB for planning suicide attacks throughout the country.
- Kyrgyzstan announced that it is now ready to consider proposals for the construction of an Iran-Afghanistan-Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan-China road. The main thrust of the ambitious project would be the opening of another trade corridor between Central Asian nations like Kyrgyzstan and China, which continues to prioritize its ties with countries in the region. A feasibility study is expected sometime in 2015.
- Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov recently met his Georgian counterpart Giorgi Margvelashvili in Ashgabat to discuss increased cooperation between the two countries. Greater engagement in transportation factored heavily in the talks, specifically transport networks that connected Turkmenistan and Georgia with Afghanistan and Azerbaijan as well. The project would have the effect of “contributing to the socio-economic revival of Afghanistan” as well as benefit officials in Tbilisi and Ashgabat.