Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 187

Various officials have been offering their own plans for dealing with the beleaguered ruble. Deputy Prime Minister Vadim Gustov said last week that he backed the idea of introducing a second, gold-backed currency in parallel with the depreciating ruble, similar to the “chervonets” issued by the Bolsheviks during the hyperinflationary period immediately after 1917 (The Moscow Times, October 10). Economist Grigory Yavlinsky advocated the same idea in early 1994, during a similar period of ruble weakness and high inflation.

Kommersant daily, meanwhile, reported that the government is seriously considering issuing actual gold coins to pay off wage arrears and debts to investors. The newspaper said that the coins could be either saved, used for purchases or sold at “special currency exchange points” (Kommersant daily, October 9). For his part, Edward Rose, governor of the Sverdlovsk region, said Friday he was considering issuing his own currency, which he would call the “Orals franc” (Russian agencies, October 9).

At the same time, some specialists have been devising plans to attract the billions of dollars believed to be stuffed under Russians’ mattresses. Boris Khaifets, an economist with the Russian Academy of Sciences, called on the government to issue “state domestic currency certificates,” denominated in foreign currency and yielding 10-15 percent in annual interest, as a way of attracting the US$25-30 billion he estimates Russians are holding in U.S. currency (Russian agencies, October 10).