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Belarus: Moscow To Pay Minsk $500 Million To Abandon Its Currency

Minsk, 14 August 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Russia will pay Belarus $500 million as compensation for accepting the Russian ruble as Belarus's national currency, Russia's ambassador to Belarus, Aleksandr Blokhin, said today. Last month, Russia and Belarus signed a deal making noncash money supplies in both countries' banks Russian-ruble denominated. But the move hasn't been implemented because Russian banks have refused to accept bank transfers denominated in Russian-rubles from Belarusian banks.

Blokhin has described the matter as a problem for "technical experts," and predicts the common currency agreement will be implemented on schedule on 1 January 2005.

Blokhin said Belarus won't lose its sovereignty once the Russian ruble became Belarus's only currency, but rather would experience economic growth because of closer ties to Russian markets.

The Belarusian national bank will not be able to trade in international money markets after the transition.