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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Confusion, Contradiction Dictate Ruble Purge

A top Central Bank official said Wednesday that confusion over money reform had eased, but banks in Moscow still appeared uncertain over how to apply the contradictory rules they received over the past three days.


Arnold Voylukov, first deputy chairman of the Central Bank, told a news conference that 442 billion rubles had been taken out of circulation since the rubles were declared invalid Saturday.


Defending the controversial decision to withdraw pre-1993 banknotes from circulation and set a limit of 35, 000 rubles on exchanges, Voylukov said the bank had calculated that the average Russian had only about 8, 000 rubles in old notes. The original bank decision to scrap old rubles allowed people to change up to 35, 000 rubles, but President Boris Yeltsin on Monday upped the limit to 100, 000 rubles.


Russian bank officials, meanwhile, were hard pressed to keep up with orders from the Central Bank and the president.


Bank officials said they had decided to obey the President's decree modifying the limits for the money swap when they were issued Monday night, even though a telegram from the Central Bank confirming the decree only arrived Tuesday morning.


The head teller at one Moscow branch of the Russian Savings Bank stated categorically that the period in which foreigners could change old rubles for new had elapsed, while the head teller of another branch said foreigners could still change their old rubles and supplied a list of 10 bank branches which would still perform the service.


The greatest confusion over the use of the ruble continues not in Russia but in the neighboring republics, which had over 2 trillion old rubles in circulation, according to Volyukov.


Khandruyev said that Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Armenia had already started negotiations with Russia on receiving new, Russian rubles to replace the old ones, and said he expected Azerbaijan to join in as well.


On Monday, amidst confusion over the move, Armenia announced it would ignore the move while Azerbaijan said it would drop the ruble and speed up its introduction of its own currency.