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Russians Hold Irreverent Rally in Support of the Ruble

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Activists in southern Russia held a rally billed as an action in support of the shrinking ruble, but intended as a tongue-in-cheek reminder to Russians that their economic hardships were a result of government policies, according to news reports and social media accounts over the weekend.

In the city of Rostov-on-Don in the southern Rostov region, demonstrators held signs that read: “Je suis ruble,” ?€?I demand finding those who ordered and carried out the murder of the ruble,?€? and ?€?The ruble hasn't fallen, it has only slipped. On [a slab of] salo,?€? according to photos posted Saturday by local residents' group ?€?Rostovnadonu?€? on Facebook.

Salo is a traditional dish of cured pork fat, popular in Russia and Ukraine. The ?€?salo?€? in the demonstrators' sign alludes to the ruble's nosedive after the Kremlin annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backed separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine — incurring Western economic sanctions amid Russia's already struggling economy.

?€?Indecent behavior by the ruble: How low you have fallen!?€? another sign read. ?€?Get up, it's time to catch up with Africa.?€?

?€?We wanted to hold this kind of a jocular action, because one can no longer watch without humor the condition into which the authorities have driven the economy,?€? one of the rally organizers, Yana Goncharova, was quoted as saying by Radio Svoboda, the Ukrainian language service of RFE/RL.

?€?We wanted city residents to look at the signs, and, feeling the irony, consider the question of which actions of the government have put the ruble into such a pitiful state, remember Crimea and the Donbass, tensions in relations with all the neighbors and partners, and everything else that has led to sanctions and an economic collapse.?€?

A vast majority of Russians cheered the annexation of Crimea, sending Russian President Vladimir Putin's domestic approval ratings soaring to a record high of 89 percent last summer. But continuing economic troubles have started to erode Russians' approval for their country's policies, according to a survey released in late January by independent Levada Center pollster.

The rally in Rostov-on-Don had been approved by the city administration, Svoboda reported. No participants were detained, but police took down the organizers' names and other personal information, the report said.

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