Eastern Europe

Russian Leadership Supports Forced Currency Sales Extension

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The Kremlin is supporting a measure to extend ‘forced foreign currency sales’ to the end of 2024. The extension could be a political development, as the Russian presidential election is approaching in March, and requires Russian exporters to convert 80% of their foreign currency earnings into rubles. 

The initial decree was signed by Putin in October during a currency collapse. It meant that every large Russian exporter was obliged to sell at least 80 percent of their foreign currency earnings and buy rubles. Representatives of the state financial monitoring service were assigned to all major exporters to ensure compliance with the new rules.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, one of the architects of the original measure, the requirement to sell foreign currency earnings “has demonstrated its effectiveness, helping to stabilize the currency market and reduce pressure on exchange rates.” The Kremlin also supports an extension, said Kremlin aide Maxim Oreshkin, reported Russian independent news outlet The Bell.

The Central Bank immediately responded to the proposal, saying it saw no great need to extend the decree. The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs – a business lobby group – also expressed its opposition. If the scheme is to be extended, the Union asked that there be a reduction in the percentage of revenue that must be sold.

The Kremlin must constantly balance keeping its oligarchy happy and their profits humming, and the daily financial experience of the rest of the Russian people. This currency policy is a prime example of this dynamic.

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