ST. PETERSBURG, Russia – Russian markets are rallying after President Vladimir Putin said he would "respect the choice of the Ukrainian people" in a presidential vote on Sunday.
Russian stocks rose, with the MICEX index up 0.6 percent, after Putin's Friday speech in St. Petersburg. The ruble rose 0.6 percent against the dollar to 34.1 rubles, its strongest level since late February, before Russia made moves to annex Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in early March.
Putin signaled he would back the Sunday elections and seek peace and stability in Ukraine, where the U.S. and the European Union have accused Russia of fomenting unrest against the pro-Western government in Kiev.
Russia's stock market and currency have taken a heavy hit in recent months as western countries imposed economic sanctions on Russia for its actions in Ukraine.