"All government officials must pronounce only the word: ruble!"
-- Ultranationalist lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky
The Associated Press reports:
Russian lawmakers gave tentative approval Wednesday to a bill that would ban cabinet members from using references to the dollar or euro in public statements, a law that is meant to boost the cachet of the ruble. Members of the 450-seat State Duma, the parliament's lower house, voted 384-0 with one abstention in favor of the proposed law. The rest of the lawmakers did not take part in the voting. The bill seeks to oblige government ministers and their subordinates to state the value of various goods and services only in rubles and to avoid converting them to dollars and euros, as is common practice in Russia.After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, hyperinflation hit the ruble and the U.S. dollar and German mark became the currencies of choice for most anything worth buying. By the late 1990s, Russia had banned transactions in those currencies, but hard-to-enforce rules meant businesses still routinely listed their prices in dollars or marks _ or later, in euros.The move comes against a backdrop of oil-driven economic growth that has lead Russia to seek to make the ruble fully convertible by removing the remaining restrictions on currency movement as of July 1. Market watchers say a demand to price only in rubles is fair, and the process is already under way. Some Russians, however, find the proposed measure uninspiring, predicting it would make official presentations virtually unintelligible as speakers wrestle with zero-laden statistics. For instance, an official mentioning Russia's swelling oil fund, which currently stands at $55 billion or 45 billion euros, should give the unwieldy figure of 1.5 trillion rubles."We agree that the problem of 'dollarization' of the country exists, but the question is what is the cause and what is the result," said Oleg Smolin, a Communist lawmaker in the Duma who did not vote on the bill.
La Russophobe dares to wonder what words Russians won't be able to say next. She also wonders what the penalty will be for saying "dollar" without permission. She doesn't think there are enough prisons to hold all the Russians who might be inclined to say such a word, so Uncle Volodya better get busy building Gulag Archipelago II real fast.