Because ofthe rise of the ruble against the dollar, Russians cut their purchasesof hard currency in May by 13.7 percent, but in the first halfof the year they still converted 15.1 percent of their incomesinto dollars, Interfax reported June 30. In some CIS countries,the rate was much higher: in Kazakhstan, for example, residentsconverted almost one-third of their incomes into hard currency.Russian economics minister Yevteny Yasin predicted that the rublewould float in a range of 4200 to 4800 to the dollar over thenext year, Ostankino television reported June 29. Other expertstold Russian television the same day that the rate would fallto 7000 or more by the end of this year. Such conflicting predictionsmay send Russian purchases of hard currency back up.
Real Unemployment Now 18 percent.