Russia makes ruble convertible

The move follows a call by President Vladimir Putin to remove the restrictions by July 1. The changes still remain to be approved by parliament, the RIA Novosti agency reported.

Analysts expect the move will ultimately make the domestic Russian debt market marginally more attractive to foreign investors, but see little immediate impact on the ruble's exchange rate, which the Central Bank will continue to regulate at daily foreign exchange auctions, according to the AP.

The bank said that it would lift a 7.5-percent mandatory reserve requirement for nonresident holders of sovereign debt. It would also lift the obligation to hold proceeds from the sale of sovereign debt temporarily in a special ruble account before converting the rubles into foreign currency.

The move comes against a backdrop of oil-driven economic growth that has seen the ruble strengthen by nearly 7 percent against the dollar this year. At today's exchange rates, it takes 27 rubles to buy a dollar. In 1998, before Russia's financial collapse, the rate was just over 6 rubles to a dollar. By 2002, the ruble had plunged to more than 32 rubles to the dollar.

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