Russian President Vladimir Putin cancelled the extended New Year holiday for government ministers because of the ongoing financial crisis, informing the agencies they must work to help strengthen the economy and take protectionary measures in the face of a combination of governmental mismanagement, dropping oil prices, and economic sanctions that have caused considerable panic in Moscow in recent weeks.
In a televised government session, Putin told ministers that they could not take off the customary period from January 1st through the 12th, saying, “For the government, for your agencies we cannot afford this long holiday, at least this year—you know what I mean.”
Just a few weeks ago, the ruble had lost 50 percent of its value, as Russia has been hurt by international economic sanctions over its role in the Ukraine crisis, as well as by sharp drops in oil prices which have recently been below $70 a barrel—down from well above $100 a barrel at the beginning of the year.
In what is perhaps an attempt to save face as a new round of economic sanctions are applied to the country, Putin also blamed the government for mistakes it has made that have led to the current crisis.
“The hardships we are facing are not only external, they are caused not only by the sanctions restrictions or by restrictions linked with the objective international situation, they are also caused by our mistakes that have been made over the years,” said Putin. However, he noted that the government has responded well to the crisis, saying they have “been doing a decent job by and large.”
Last week, Russia’s gold and foreign currency reserves dropped by as much as $15.7 billion to below $400 billion, down from over $510 billion at the start of the year. And, according to Putin economic aide Andrei Belousov, the annual inflation rate was at 10.4 percent and is expected to continue rising.
Meanwhile, Russia’s finance minister, also on Thursday, seemed to contradict Putin, saying that the currency crisis is over after the ruble hit a three-week high. “We think that now this period has come to an end, the period of instability,” said Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov, according to Russian news agencies. “We think that the ruble is still undervalued at the current price of oil.”
SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine, Dec. 26 (UPI) — Visa cards and lines of credit will no longer be usable in Crimea as a result of strict economic sanctions placed on Russia by the United States earlier in December.
“According to the US sanctions imposed against Crimea on December 19, 2014, Visa currently cannot provide services and offer their products in the Crimea,” Visa Inc. said in a statement.
“This means that we can no longer issue or accept bank cards in Crimea, and service them in ATMs … As for the time period, these limitations will last until the sanctions are lifted from Crimea. At the moment it is unclear when this will happen; it will depend on the development of the political and diplomatic situation. VISA continues to follow closely the events and will provide you with the information as soon as it appears.”
The expanded U.S. sanctions prohibit doing business in Crimea until Russia surrenders the annexed territory back to the Ukraine.
Despite the latest round of hurdles for Russia’s already struggling economy, the Central Bank of Russia insists its own lending power negates Visa’s inability to do business in Crimea.
“Russian credit institutions operating in the territory of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol work as usual, including the opening of bank accounts, transferring funds, and deposits and withdrawals of funds,” says the Central Bank.
Mastercard has not yet announced if it will continue to enable transactions in Crimea.
Why does Obama come up with such quick judgments on news events and make them public? Whether it’s the downing of MH17, the use of chemical weapons in Syria, the death of Michael Brown, or the hacking of Sony, Obama hastily tells everyone what happened even though he cannot possibly know what has happened. Why does he do this?
In each case, he clearly has an agenda that he wishes to promote. He has ulterior motives. He wants to use the events to advance his political agenda. Whenever he does this, he can be proven wrong — later on. But since he has spoken out early and loudly and since he gets instant and wide publicity, his version becomes the predominant version. Even if it doesn’t predominate, he has managed the news to his own satisfaction. He has altered the attitudes or perceptions of a certain segment of the population, and this has advanced his agenda. He has advanced the reality he’s after, and he has made it come true. His position is so powerful that, with some care and skill, he creates “truth” and reality. What he says about events may later be shown to be false. He’s willing to take that risk and live with it in order to advance his agenda, which is the “truth” or reality he’s after. There’s usually enough uncertainty surrounding events that he can make a plausible-sounding case for his version. The public is not interested in knowing the truth or meaning of many events anyway, and their attention is onto the next story.
There is the truth obtained by careful consideration of causes and effects. This truth is one of understanding and knowledge. This is not what Obama or any politician is after. Their idea of truth is what is real, or what occurs, or what is material reality. The politicians think in terms of objects and what is or is not, as experienced in objects. People to them are objects for manipulation. The free mind and personality are not valued by those who have this will to dominance. They manipulate, as masters to slaves. Their manipulation of the minds of the people who live under their rule is surely of no less importance, and perhaps of greater importance, than all the material aggressions of the state. If people do not mind those material inroads and think of them as not aggressions, they will think themselves free when actually their minds and thoughts have been conditioned and heavily influenced and controlled. The problem here is that, with enough conditioning, slaves can think themselves free.