The ruble has seen its value take a serious hit in the last months, as it did in the 1998 crash – but the chances for a speedy recovery look ‘murkier this time around’. Is Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin behind the latest probes into the Finance Ministry? ‘Sechin is widely seen as the bete noire of Russian politics,’ says Radio Free Europe. ‘A dim-bulb Kremlin may have figured out that when the economy is hemorrhaging and used car salesmen are shouting “Putler Kaput,” firing a bunch of governors, even a big bunch, is an inadequate response.’ On Russia’s small industries seeking loans to assist them in the struggle to cut energy expenditure. Bad news for US exports, after Egypt bought 240,000 tons of Russian grain, causing the price to fall.