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Russia lets ruble fall as devaluation continues

January 11, 2009 | The Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's Central Bank allowed the ruble to drop sharply against the dollar as the country's long New Year's holiday ended Sunday, resuming a controlled devaluation of the currency that began Nov. 11.

The ruble dropped by 1.5 rubles on the MICEX foreign currency exchange, to 30.5 to the dollar, 1.1 percent down against the dollar-euro basket at the start of trading. The currency rose slightly Sunday against the euro, from 41.4 on Dec. 30, before the winter holidays, to 41.2.

It is the 13th sharp drop in the national currency since Nov. 11, when the supervised slide began. The ruble's fall has been triggered in part by declining energy prices, which have weakened Russia's economy.

Russia's Central Bank normally does not allow the currency to lose more than 1 percent of its value in one day. The ruble has shed more than 20 percent of its value against the dollar since its high of 23.4 in early August.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in December that Russia has used its foreign reserves to buy rubles and slow the national currency's fall "so that every citizen can decide what they should do with their savings."

Some economists have advocated a more rapid devaluation of the currency.

The Kremlin is anxious to avoid a repeat of the 1998 financial crisis, when Russians rushed to withdraw their savings as the ruble collapsed.

By NATALIYA VASILYEVA

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