Ruble enters force as Crimea's official currency
SIMFEROPOL - Agence France-Presse
CİHAN PhotoThe ruble entered force as Crimea's official currency on Monday as Russia seized complete control of the peninsula, but businesses were still dealing mainly in the Ukrainian hryvnia.
"From this day, we can officially make payments in rubles. The hryvnia remains in use until the 1st of January, 2016," Crimea's pro-Moscow prime minister Sergiy Aksyonov said on Twitter.
His deputy Rustam Temirgaliev, cited by Russia's RIA Novosti news agency, said pensions would be paid in rubles from Monday, and that 300 million rubles ($8.3 million, six million euros) had been set aside for this.
Russia's official ITAR-TASS news agency said, in a report issued at midnight, that "today the ruble was officially put into circulation" in the Black Sea peninsula.
The law Russia's parliament adopted last week on annexing Crimea declares the ruble the territory's official currency, but that there would be a period of transition until January 1, 2016.
On the ground, however, banks and shops were still dealing almost exclusively in the Ukrainian hryvnia on Monday.
"We haven't received any instructions on the adoption of the ruble," said an official at a Sevastopol branch of Italian bank UniCredit.
An employee at Oschadbank concurred, saying: "We're not aware of anything. We haven't received a letter."
A staff member at a Post Office in Sevastopol said that pensions would be paid in rubles, "but we don't know when".
Store operators in Crimea's main port city also indicated they were still in the dark about the ruble's adoption.
"Our cash registers still haven't been configured for rubles, but tills at some large supermarkets are ready to take them," said a grocery store employee.
A municipality spokesman told AFP that the ruble had successfully entered into circulation.
"For the time being, prices will be denominated in two currencies, and can be paid in both," said Igor Dolgopolov.
One hotel said it was accepting payments in rubles but giving change in hryvnia.
The developments came as Ukraine ordered its outnumbered troops to withdraw from Crimea after Russia's seizure and annexation of the peninsula.