Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Thursday that members of the country’s government will not be allowed to go off on holidays amid the ongoing financial crisis.
In a televised government session, Putin said that Kremlin officials cannot afford to take a vacation, saying, "For the government, for your agencies we cannot afford this long holiday, at least this year—you know what I mean," The Associated Press reported. Russian officials are entitled for holidays from Jan. 1 to Jan. 12, as Russia celebrates Christmas on Jan. 7. Putin’s decision comes as Russia struggles to rescue a sanctions-hit economy after the ruble plunged to all-time lows last week.
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Thursday that the country’s currency crisis was over, but its inflation could climb over 10 percent amid the worst economic crisis Russia has seen since 1998. On Friday, Siluanov said that he predicts the oil-dependent Russian economy to shrink by 4 percent in 2015 after accounting for oil prices at $60 a barrel.
“We have been making efforts to change the structure of our economy, to refine it and make it more innovative ... quite a lot has been done in this direction,” Putin said at the meeting. “However, recent events show that this is not enough.”
During the annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow, Putin criticized the Western sanctions, and accused the U.S. and the European Union of undermining Russia. He said that the economic sanctions over Moscow’s role in the eastern Ukrainian conflict accounted for about 25 percent to 30 percent of the Russian economic crisis. However, at Thursday’s session, Putin also admitted that external matters cannot solely be held responsible for Russia's economic debacle.
“The difficulties we have come across are not only of an external type,” Putin said. “They are not only due to some sanctions or limitations caused by the global market situation -- they are also the result of our own shortcomings that have piled up over the years.”