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GRAPHIC-Cold wind in August: Russia's rouble

MOSCOW, Aug 1 (Reuters) - So bad can the month of August be for Russians, there is even a Wikipedia page called “August Curse”.

It juxtaposes the calendar with natural disasters and airplane crashes. It could also focus on the rouble.

In the quarter century since 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia’s modern history began, the rouble has only firmed against the dollar in August four times -- in 2000, 2006, 2007 and last year.

The rest of the time it has been marred by weakness, sometimes rapid. As the following graphic shows, the rouble has weakened more than 1.4 percent on average in August over the past five years.

Sometimes, “black swans” -- unexpected events -- have come along, some of which battered the currency.

In August 1998, the rouble lost 35 percent of its value against the dollar.

In August 1999, Russia started the so-called Second Chechen War in the breakaway Caucasus region, which in following years became the reason for numerous deadly bombings blamed on Chechen insurgents.

In August 2000, the Russian submarine Kursk sank in the Barents sea, killing all 118 people on board. A couple of weeks later a fire at Moscow’s iconic TV tower Ostankino left the region with almost no TV channels for weeks.

In August 2008, the rouble weakened when Russia got into a short-lived war with Georgia.

In August 2014, lower oil prices and Western sanctions against Moscow battered the currency.

And this year?

“The market is already pricing in worsening of the geopolitical situation around Russia because of new anti-Russian sanctions backed by the U.S. Senate,” said Vladimir Miklashevksy, an analyst at Danske Bank in Finland.

The rouble, now at 59.98 against the dollar, is seen weakening to 61 by the end of August, said Sberbank CIB.

Reporting Andrey Ostroukh, Vladimir Abramov and Jeremy Gaunt, editng by Ed Osmond

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