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The small band of hedge funds that focus on Russia have among the worst returns of the year across the industry.
The Firebird New Russia Fund is down 26 percent this year through Nov. 30; the Kaltchuga Fund is off 32.6 through Dec. 5, according to a hedge fund performance report by HSBC Alternative Investment Group; and the Russian Prosperity Fund, which avoids shorting stocks, is down an estimated 50 percent through Dec. 16, an official at the fund said.
Reached late Tuesday by phone, Mattias Westman, founding partner at Prosperity Capital Management, which runs the flagship Russian Prosperity Fund, was stalwart. Having invested in Russia for 20 years, including during the 1998 currency crisis, he said he believes that once the near-term tumult passes, the economy will strengthen broadly. Over the years, "Those who have strong nerves have benefited quite a lot," he said.
Representatives for the Kaltchuga Fund didn't immediately respond to requests for comment on the performance.
Harvey Sawikin, Firebird's co-founder, did appear on CNBC Tuesday to discuss Russia investing in general, noting signs of panic selling.
"There are some signs of bottom formation but there are so many other factors at work here, like the oil price, the geopolitical situation," Sawikin said in a live interview from New York. "We need to see what Putin is going to say on Thursday when he gives a speech. Maybe he'll say positive things. That would give the market a boost."
Hedge funds aren't jumping in to short Russian stocks, either.
Russian equity ETFs have seen increased volumes in last two days on the heels of the country's dramatic interest rate increase, according to Credit Suisse's Mark Connors, who tracks hedge fund positioning.
But, Connors said, sellers appear to be investors exiting existing positions, not new short sellers getting in.
"The focus among funds we speak with rests on managing for the possibility of larger scale volatility beyond that seen today in Russia and other oil-exporting sovereigns," Connors added.
—CNBC's Kate Kelly contributed to this report.