Russian ruble will recover despite current volatility, Kremlin says

The ruble will undoubtedly rebound from recent losses as it has done before, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said after the currency touched multi-month lows on Monday.

The US dollar rose around 0.8 percent against the Russian currency, which was trading at above 79 rubles to one US dollar – the lowest level since April. The ruble also hit its lowest exchange rate against the euro since January 2016. 

“Of course, there’s currently volatility in the exchange rate. It’s hard not to notice it,” Peskov said. “After periods when the ruble loses its strength, there are periods when it regains its strength.” Now the most important question is how long it will take the ruble to recover, he added.

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The drop in the Russian currency coincided with the rise of coronavirus cases in the country. Negative investor sentiment and low oil prices, which were down in morning trading amid concerns over the possibility of new coronavirus restrictions, also affected the ruble exchange rate.

Last week, the Ministry of Economic Development said the ruble had weakened due to temporary factors, such as rising geopolitical strife and other risks felt by the financial markets. According to the ministry’s predictions, the average annual ruble exchange rate this year will stand at 71.2 rubles to one US dollar, and the Russian currency is set to rebound to fundamentally sound levels from late 2020 to early 2021.

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‘MAD-vedev’: Russian hothead Daniil Medvedev demolishes racket as he suffers meltdown in French Open defeat (VIDEO)

Daniil Medvedev suffered a mid-match meltdown as the Russian was sent crashing out of the French Open in the first round by Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.

The clay courts of Roland-Garros have never been a happy hunting ground for Medvedev, who had yet to win a match on his three visits to Paris prior to this year. 

That record made Medvedev’s ranking as fourth seed look optimistic this time around, and so it proved as the Russian fell at the first hurdle against Hungarian outsider Fucsovics in a tempestuous late-night match on a chilly Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Fucsovics took the first set 6-4 before Medvedev imploded during the tie-break in the second set, slamming his racket onto the clay after losing a remarkable rally to go 3-6 down.

The Russian was given a penalty point – having earlier been warned for an audible obscenity – and handed the set to Fucsovics before storming off to his chair.  

The 24-year-old Medvedev managed to recapture some composure to take the third set 6-2, but any hopes of an unlikely comeback were short-lived as the Hungarian won the third set 6-1 to complete the win. 

After his latest outbursts, questions will again be asked over Medvedev’s temperament.

The big Russian was infamously involved in a running battle with the crowd on his way to the US Open final in 2019, and while the stands were sparsely populated in Paris he was again unable to stop his anger from spilling over. 

There were several flashpoints with Fucsovics, with Medvedev heard muttering his frustrations in Russian and French during the match and at one point resorting to serving underarm. 

The racket-smash in particular caught the attention of social media users, some of whom took to nicknaming the Russian ‘MAD-vedev’ in a pun on his short fuse.

Considering his clay court struggles, Medvedev may not be overly surprised or disappointed at his early exit in France, as his attentions turn to what can be salvaged from the remainder of the season.  

Fucsovics, who earned his first win over Medvedev at the fourth attempt, now meets Spain’s Albert Ramos Vinolas in the second round. 

‘Special intelligence’ shows Pyongyang issued ORDER to burn body of South Korea official, Seoul opposition leader claims

The South Korean military has already verified that North Korea burned the corpse of a government official they shot last week, an opposition leader has disclosed. Pyongyang denies it tampered with the body.

The Ministry of National Defense used “special intelligence” to determine that Pyongyang ordered that the body of the fisheries official be doused in fuel and burned, People Power Party floor leader Joo Ho-young told local media. 

“It’s not what the Defense Ministry judged for itself, but what it has heard accurately,” Joo said. He accused the ruling Democratic Party of accepting Pyonyang’s version of events, rather than listening to their country’s own military.

The victim, who worked for South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, went missing while inspecting the waters near the border between the two hostile neighbors. The civil servant reportedly jumped off his boat and drifted into North Korean waters, reportedly to defect to the North. He was shot by North Korean soldiers as he attempted to flee while being interrogated. 

South Korea’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday that the civil servant’s body, as well as his flotation device, had been burned, but it did not provide details about how it reached this conclusion. 

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Pyongyang has denied that it set fire to the South Korean’s body, but acknowledged that it burned the floating device, purportedly as part of anti-coronavirus measures. 

On Monday, South Korea expanded its search for the official’s body. At least six aircraft and 45 vessels are participating in the operation. Pyongyang has accused Seoul of using the search as a pretext to enter its territorial waters and said that it was conducting its own search to locate the man’s remains. The “intrusion” could lead to an “escalation of tensions” in the region, North Korea warned.

The incident led to a rare apology from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who said the killing should not have happened. Seoul has urged Pyongyang to further investigate the matter and suggested the possibility of a joint probe. 

The two Koreas signed an accord in 2018 that called for closer economic cooperation and a less militarized border. The landmark agreement was followed by denuclearization talks the next year. However, these negotiations failed after North Korea rejected a US plan that would lift sanctions in exchange for disarmament. In recent months, reconciliation efforts have soured between Seoul and Pyongyang. In June, North Korea blew up an inter-Korean liaison office located in its territory, after the North accused Seoul of not doing enough to stop defectors from smuggling leaflets and other anti-government literature across the border. 

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UNSC convenes for emergency meeting as Nagorno-Karabakh fighting continues into 3rd day

The UN Security Council is set to gather later on Tuesday to discuss the crisis in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, where Armenian and Azeri forces are fighting in one of the worst flare-ups of the decades-old conflict.

Initiated by five EU countries, namely Belgium, France, Germany, Estonia, and the UK, emergency talks are scheduled for Tuesday, according to media reports. Some 15 UN Security Council members will hold talks behind closed doors without the parties of the conflict, possibly issuing a joint declaration after the meeting. 

Previously, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres underscored “the need for an immediate stop to the fighting and resumption without the precondition of meaningful negotiations without delay.” Major world powers including the US, Russia, France, and Germany, have also urged the adversaries to cease hostilities immediately and resume talks.

The global body convenes on the heels of heavy fighting that erupted suddenly on Sunday morning along the border of Nagorno-Karabakh, involving large-caliber artillery shelling, aerial bombardments, and tank battles. Yerevan, the main backer of the landlocked ethnic Armenian-populated enclave, pinned the blame on Azerbaijan for launching an “offensive,” while Baku insisted it was responding to Armenia’s attacks.

Hostilities have continued into Tuesday morning with no sign of de-escalation. The warring parties have deployed additional heavy weapons systems to the frontline, among them the 300mm ‘Smerch’ multiple launch rocket systems and ‘Iskander’ tactical missile.

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As fighting intensified, Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan introduced martial law and called their reservists to arms. Dozens of military and civilian casualties have also been reported from both sides who accused each other of targeting non-combatants.

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