A woman walks past a currency exchange board in central Minsk on December 23, 2014. AFP PHOTO / SERGEI GAPON
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Russia's ruble hit its highest levels in two weeks Tuesday, shored up by informal capital control measures designed to head off a repeat of the inflation and protests that marked Russia's financial crisis in 1998 .Economists said the measures were effectively a softer version of capital controls, but that President Vladimir Putin, who has drawn much of his popularity from financial stability and rising prosperity, would keep his pledge not to resort to full-fledged controls.Capital movements were liberalized only 10 years ago and restrictions bring back memories of the chaotic post-Soviet financial turbulence which Putin, now in his 15th year as Russia's leader, made it his mission to banish.Four banking sources and sources close to the government said that the central bank had last week begun sending supervisors to monitor currency trading at major Russian banks.The central bank expects net capital outflows to hit $130 billion this year and Russia can ill afford to lose any more, with economists forecasting that an already slowing economy will shrink 3.6 percent next year.
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