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How Much Is That Ruble In The Window? Russia Bans Currency Exchange Signs

Take a long last look.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved a law banning boards showing currency exchange rates in public places, outlawing the signs that have been a familiar feature on city streets since the Soviet collapse.

The law that Putin signed on December 18 prohibits the boards and instructs the Russian Central Bank to decide how banks and other financial institutions will be able to inform clients about currency exchange rates.

The Central Bank proposed the ban earlier his year, saying it would help tackle illegal currency exchange offices

Currency exchange booths -- in many cases hole-in-the-wall operations allowing one person to enter at a time -- popped up in cities and towns in Russia and other countries ahead of the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

In times of high inflation and economic instability, the neon-bulb or plastic numbers changed quickly, compounding tension as consumers tried to guess when it was most beneficial -- or least damaging -- to trade hard currency for rubles or vice versa.

Local and foreign media outlets have often used photographs of the signs to illustrate stories about the economy and consumer woes in Russia and other former Soviet republics.

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