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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

All Shops Must Sell for Rubles

From now on, shoppers at hard-currency stores can pay in rubles.

The Central Bank issued its regulations last week restricting the use of hard currency in Russia and requiring enterprises to accept rubles alongside dollars, according to Interfax.

The new regulations require hard-currency stores, and other enterprises licensed to deal in foreign currencies, to offer customers the choice of paying in rubles.

There is, however, one large loophole: Businesses are allowed to set their own ruble exchange rates. Store owners have already begun using the regulation to protect themselves from the ruble's rapid deterioration and to discourage ruble purchases.

The ruble requirement created an uproar among some hard-currency shop owners in November when the Central Bank first announced its plan. Store owners complained that they were buying imported goods abroad with dollars and would lose money if they had to accept rubles.

Some stores have begun to adapt as expected: by setting high dollar exchange rates to protect themselves from the plunging ruble. At Sadko on Sunday, for example, the store was offering to make ruble sales at an exchange rate of 590 to the dollar.

This was nearly 100 rubles higher than the rate of 493 rubles to the dollar set at the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange on Thursday.

In October, President Boris Yeltsin called for a complete ban on the dollar in an effort to respond to conservative lawmakers. But government officials later stepped away from Yeltsin's statement, saying that such a ban would be impossible until some time in 1993 because of the country's decrepit banking system. As a compromise measure, the bank announced in November its plan to require hard-currency stores to accept rubles. It issued its regulations last week.

The regulations also ban using hard currency for domestically made goods.

Interfax said Central Bank officials still believed the time was not ripe for banning the dollar, but that it would "stick to its course toward eliminating foreign currency circulation in the Russian Federation".