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Belarus Completes Its Currency Devaluation


A woman passes by a currency exchange office in the Belarusian capital, Minsk

A woman passes by a currency exchange office in the Belarusian capital, Minsk

The exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble plunged by 30 percent on May 11 after the government said that money changers on the street can now buy and sell currency at any rate they want.

Authorities last month allowed banks to buy and sell the ruble at a rate determined in open trading.

Banks responded by raising the U.S. dollar exchange rate from some 3,000 rubles to 4,000 rubles against the dollar. Belarus is facing a severe downturn, with hard-currency reserves plunging 20 percent in the first two months of the year.

The devaluation comes amid reports that Russia is in talks with Belarus on lending its neighbor $3 billion.

Russian news agencies, however, quoted Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin as saying that Moscow is not planning to lend Minsk money directly.

Kudrin also suggested Minsk be more active in privatizing prized assets such as oil refineries.

compiled from agency reports
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