Andrei Ivochkin: What does Euro signify for Russians?

On Tuesday, in Russia, “Day of the Euro” took place, the currency that will be introduced in European countries next year. For Russians, it is still not clear, what the Euro exchange rate with other currencies will be.

After January 1 of next year, 12 countries of Europe are giving up their national currencies and adoptin the united currency in cash payments. In different countries, there will be different exchange conditions; however, authorities guarantee that for several months, the old currencies will be able to be exchanged with the new one without financial losses.

Russia does not belong to the Euro-zone, but the conversion issue of Marks or Francs into the Euro is also an issue for Russia. It is known that Russian citizens prefer to keep their savings in dollars, but they also have enough European currencies. There are different estimations. According to one of the leading financial experts of Russia and deputy director general of Interros holding company, Sergei Alexashenko, the volume of European money is not large in Russia. “I suppose that it does not exceed one million dollars, it is even less than it. The Savings Bank actively carries out work with Euro-deposits, so when it says that correlation between Euro and dollar deposits are 1 to 100, I could conclude this correlation refers to cash money as well. If the population has some currency preferences, so they do not depend on whether the question is about a cash or cashless form. If the population has several dozen billions in their hands, it could be 20 or 70; so, if you take one hundred percent of it, it makes from 200 to 700 million dollars,” – Sergei Alexashenko says. Meanwhile, neither the Central Bank of Russia nor commercial banks are practically informing the population about the united European currency. At least, not many people in Russia understand what the new currency will look like. For all that, the authorities already managed to warn the people that they should be careful about false Euros and not hasten to use it in cash calculations. According to ex-chairman of the Central Bank and Deputy Chairman of Unit Energetic Systems Russian Stock Association’s direction Sergei Dubinin, this cannot be in anyway compared with the information company connected with new dollar introduction: “Now, this question does not signify for Russian population as much as at that time. Though, at the same time, we should prepare ourselves, and, of course, it would be useful to make bigger efforts, especially in the regions, where Marks and other European currencies are being used. In Vladivostok (the Far East), these explanations are not so useful, as, for example, in Kaliningrad. This should be taken into account. Though, I cannot estimate from a professional point of view if the work carried out at the moment is enough. In general, I did not see such explanations. ” It is not clear yet as well what will be the exchange conditions for Russian citizens after January 1. European bankers call their Russian colleagues to organize the exchange under the same conditions as in Europe: according to them, the conversion must be carried out with fixed courses and without losses for citizens. However, Russian bankers intend to act in another way. According to Vladimir Mau, leader of Economical Reforms Working Center of the Russian Government, financial losses will take place all the same: “There will be the exchange, though after January 1, it will be long enough and not free of charge. I do not know whether the Savings Bank or any other bank should take chances and charge for these transactions. If a bank while competing wants to draw more money and says it carries out these operations free of charge, this will be its commercial interest…” Mau cannot characterize these operations as “correct or incorrect”. According to him, the countries that carry out the exchange must carry it out free of charge, and they do. Though, he does not suppose that Russian commercial banks should take part in this work and do it at the expense of their funds.

The financial losses of Russian citizens cannot be forecasted now. First of all, they will be connected with cash money remittance from Russia and back. However, according to Sergei Alexashenko, Russian bankers can hardly change the situation: “The Savings Bank can hardly be blamed for it, because I suppose it keeps the rules proposed to it by another side, i.e., by the European Central Bank and by the contractor banks it cooperates with. If Deutsche Bank says it receives Marks until January 2, and ,afterwards, it receives Marks under some other conditions, the Savings Bank should impose the same conditions on the Russian population.”

However, Russian citizens still have enough time to settle this problem up to the year 2002. According to Vladimir Mau, this could be easily done: first of all, there will not be special troubles around this problem, so there is nothing to be worry about. “If you want to see the Euro, you could do it in the Savings Bank or in other banks and receive it after January 1, maybe not at the first day, it depends… If you often go abroad, you do not need my advice, you simply could go abroad and exchange money directly in Euro-zone countries."

Meanwhile, Russian authorities have never intended to explain these conditions for the population. So, it is not excluded that Europe’s turn to Euro will be an unpleasant surprise for many people. While until January 1, two weeks remain when savings could be converted to cashless Euro.

Andrei Ivochkin PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Vera Solovieva

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