Russians Prefer Pay in Rubles, Despite Plunge

Russians still want to be paid in rubles despite the currency losing almost one-fifth of its value against the dollar since the summer, polling data showed Thursday.

Maintaining confidence in its currency is a key plank of the country's anti-crisis policy and the Central Bank has spent around $100 billion propping up the ruble since early August.

The bank started a program of gradual depreciations on Nov. 11 and the ruble is now trading down 18 percent since a nine-year high in July.

"So far, Russians seem to trust the national currency, but it's not so much a positive sign toward the ruble but more a negative sign toward foreign currencies, and it may only be short-term," VTsIOM pollster Olga Kamenchuk said.

The data showed that 80 percent of the respondents wanted to be paid in rubles, up from 78 percent in October but down from 96 percent in 2006.

VTsIOM polled 1,600 people from around the country on Dec. 6 and 7, during the recent depreciations.

"Russians had said this was a crisis for the United States and the Western world mainly because they didn't see the results in the real sector," Kamenchuk said. "Now though, the media has started talking about it and of course, the prime minister."

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin spoke about the economic crisis during a TV address this month, but inflation and job cuts are still only lightly reported by the country's mainstream media.