Arab Today, arab today confusion as crimea readies transition to ruble
Last Updated : GMT 13:23:05
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Confusion as Crimea readies transition to ruble

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Confusion as Crimea readies transition to ruble

Simferopol - AFP

Crowds have been forming outside banks in Crimea since a weekend referendum to join Russia, with clients rushing to take money out, fearful of confusion with the introduction of the Russian ruble. Gone are the scenes of jubilation that erupted Sunday when the Black Sea peninsula voted to break with Ukraine and join Russia. Crimeans are now anxiously seeking access to their savings but the biggest bank on the peninsula, Ukraine's PrivatBank, has stopped receiving clients altogether after the separatist parliament adopted the ruble alongside the Ukrainian hryvnia. As dozens of clients pressed against the door of one of its branches in Crimea's regional capital Simferopol this week, five guards in black coats were seen blocking the entrance. The bank sent Maxim, a young employee, to placate the crowd. "Do not worry. All the accounts will be reopened soon," he said. "Wait a week and all will be in order. At the moment, we do not know clearly how it will all work." But his assurances were drowned out by the pleas of the clients, many panicking about their assets after Crimea's authorities declared that the ruble would be its sole currency from January 1, 2016 as Russia absorbed the territory as its own. "The bank called me to pay my credit and I can't do that," said one elderly woman. Another asked: "How am I going to receive my pension?" With limited cash available on the peninsula, daily withdrawals have been limited to just 500 hrvynias (37 euros, $49) a day at PrivatBank starting this week. And on Wednesday the bank said it was "temporarily" suspending all its activities in Crimea "because of the undefined legal status of the banking system on the peninsula". It added: "Branches of Ukrainian banks cannot work on foreign territory which is what the Russian Federation has declared Crimea". Queues have formed at ATM machines of different banks across the city, with people anxious to get their hands on their daily quota of Ukrainian money. "I'm afraid," said 19-year-old Daria, one of those standing patiently in the queue. "I don't know what is going to happen." Vendors at Simferopol's main street market, where prices are still marked in hyrvnia, were more relaxed. Irina, 45, a shoe seller, said she was not accepting rubles yet, as an exchange rate has not been set. But she was unperturbed aboutjuggling between two currencies. "For me, it's normal," she said For spice seller Galina, 68, it was just yet another currency change. "We are used to it. After the fall of the Soviet Union, we had to pay with coupons," she said, referring to the kabonavets, a transition currency used during the early years of Ukrainian independence, between 1992 and 1996. But Oxana was more concerned, citing her experience of having lived through "several inflations, several referendums and numerous monetary changes". "If we start using the ruble immediately, I think there would be a problem," she said.  

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