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A Russian Finance Ministry official told Reuters on Wednesday that the ministry had started converting foreign currency from its Reserve Fund into rubles, via its accounts at the central bank, earlier this week.
Maxim Oreshkin, head of the Finance Ministry's long-term strategic planning department, said the ministry intended to complete the conversion of 500 billion rubles ($8.01 billion), the amount that the government plans to spend from the Reserve Fund this year, by the end of the week.
The news sent the ruble higher against the dollar. By 1:40 p.m. GMT the dollar had fallen 1.5 percent against the Russian currency.
The conversion will not go via the forex market, at least initially, but the money could be used by the Treasury to be placed in Russian banks via deposit auctions, he said.
The central bank said in a response to questions from Reuters that it would take into account the situation on the forex market when considering when to convert the Reserve Fund money on the currency market.
The bank added that the conversion would not affect inflationary processes in itself, as the bank would use its other tools to compensate for the increase in ruble liquidity.