Russian economy contracts for the first time in five years as rouble crisis takes hold

 
Emma Haslett
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Putin said last month that he expected the rouble crisis to last two years at the most (Source: Getty)

The Russian economy contracted by 0.5 per cent in November, its first fall since October 2009, according to official figures released today.

The news came as President Putin signed a law doubling the deposit guarantee for banks to 1.4m roubles (£16,000).

Officials of the Russian government added that they expect a total GDP fall of 0.6 per cent this year, followed by a contraction of 0.8 per cent next year.

At a major press conference earlier this month, Putin said the effects of the rouble crisis will last "two years in the most unfavourable circumstances".

However, declining oil prices and sanctions from Western economies have caused the currency to lose more than half its value since the beginning of the year. This morning it continued its decline, falling more than six per cent against the dollar.

"Not so smart"

Putin continues to enjoy high popularity ratings among voters - an Associated Press-NORC Centre for Public Affairs Research poll published this month found 81 per cent of voters still support him.

But other politicians' regard for Putin's political strategies is waning. In an end-of-year interview with US radio channel NPR released today, President Obama said:

Three or four months ago, everybody in Washington was convinced that President Putin was a genius.... [but] today, you know, I'd sense that at least outside of Russia, maybe some people are thinking what Putin did wasn't so smart.

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