The real effective ruble exchange rate strengthened by 4.7 percent in the first quarter of 2004, Central Bank Chairman Sergey Ignatyev said at today's meeting of the Association of Russian Banks. He explained the strengthening as coming from high prices for oil and serious inflow of foreign capital in December 2003 to January 2004. At the same time, the Central Bank is a little concerned about this strengthening, Ignatyev noted. The Central Bank has capabilities to prevent the real effective ruble exchange rate from strengthen by more than 7 percent in 2004, the chairman added. As reported earlier, the real effective ruble exchange rate increased by 4.1 percent from December 2002 to December 2003.
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building