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Belarusians Invest In Household Appliances After Currency Devaluation

Appliances for sale in a Minsk shop.
MINSK -- RFE/RL’s Belarus Service reports long lines in Minsk shopping malls as Belarusians rush to purchase laundry machines, televisions, refrigerators, and other electronic devices in an effort to offset a sharp drop in the value of the Belarusian ruble.

On January 2, the central bank of Belarus devalued the country's currency by about one-fifth. The National Bank said the devaluation was aimed at safeguarding "the high competitiveness of the Belarusian economy."

Amid fears of further devaluation, Belarusians have been using their weakened rubles to buy U.S. dollars and euros, as well as household appliances imported from the West.

Mall officials told RFE/RL that appliance prices are likely to rise.

The International Monetary Fund recently approved a $2.5 billion loan to help Belarus weather the global financial crisis.