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Russians withdraw cash and plot emigration

Five days into Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, events move so fast that Ilyarion, a 37-year-old Moscow programmer, decided he should be prepared for the worst – to flee Russia.

“A few days ago we all said, of course there will be no war. And then the war happened. So we said there would be no nuclear war, we would not have to flee the country,” said Ilyarion, one of hundreds of people queuing for ATMs across the Russian capital.

In recent days, large queues have formed in banks and cash machines as residents search for U.S. dollars, increasingly rare after West imposed financial sanctions on RussiaRestricting his access to foreign currency.

Some people stood in line for hours waiting for dollars to arrive at the branch or ATM, only to have the machine emptied within minutes. Some even tried to track cash trucks around town, they told the Financial Times to have cash in case they had to flee the country.

“Now we are wondering if the state is going to forcibly convert dollar savings into rubles to take the citizens’ dollars because they are disconnected from the outside. This is a reality we see on the horizon,” Ilyarion said. “I do not think it is a joke anymore that we may be bombed and we will have to flee the country, which requires holding dollars in cash or cryptocurrency,” he added.

The Russian ruble lost more than 30% at the start of trading on Monday against the dollar after the US and the EU imposed sanctions on its central bank and cut access to Swift’s payment system for some Russian banks.

Moscow then announced a ban from Tuesday on foreign currency transfers to banks outside the country.

Aside from queuing for cash, there also seems to be an increase in the number of Russians considering immigration. The search for the word “migration” increased fivefold last week, according to Google Trends, which analyzes the frequency of Internet searches. Most of the searches come from Murmansk, the far eastern region of neighboring Russia to Alaska, as well as St. Petersburg, a traditional liberal city, followed by Moscow.

Lev Godkov, head of the Independent Survey Center alone, told Radio Commerce FM that the number of people willing to leave the country increased significantly in February, reaching 22% of Russians and almost half of young people.

Causes include limited business opportunities, incompatibility with the “growing regime of oppression,” and anxiety among parents of children approaching the age of enlistment, he said. “Whoever had two thoughts, will now be persuaded to leave when the Iron Curtain goes down.”

Some compared the situation to that of the communist era, when the Soviet Union was effectively closed off from the rest of the world. Others expect to repeat the 1990s, when the collapse of the value of the currency raised the cost of living.

“I remember in the ’90s prices were set in dollars, even if it was illegal. The ruble was worthless. And I’m worried it’s what we’ll see again,” said Alexei, an IT expert who waited several hours at a mall where he exchanged rubles for dollars at a record rate of more than Rbs100 per dollar. Before the war, one dollar bought Rbs70. He also said he was looking for ways to emigrate.

Elena, a 29-year-old human resources expert from Moscow, said she was considering following her friends abroad. They left for the UAE because they could not see a positive future in Russia.

“Emotions are mixed, we are completely unprepared. It’s a complete mess, and it’s very scary in every way, not only is the economy collapsing and we will live from it [food] Annuity cards like our parents and grandparents [did]. There is a sense of utter frustration, “she said, referring to the system of budgeted purchases prevalent in the 1990s.

“We really hope the situation is resolved with a minimum of losses, but when I know our country’s policy and where it is headed, I’m not positive about the chances. We hope for the best but prepare for the worst. “Here.”

Others have lined up to buy iPhones and TVs, spending rubles now in the expectation that they will soon be worth less as prices rise.

“In the last few days it’s been like Christmas for us,” said a salesman at an electronics store. “People are even willing to buy things [though] We raised prices every few hours based on the state of the currency.

In the absence of certainty, people like Ilorion plan for all cases. “I have savings in rubles in case everything is fine, and savings in dollars in case things go wrong. I can see a scenario where the state takes the dollars by force in exchange for rubles,” he said.

What is clear is that for now all gambling is disabled. “Anything that previously seemed impossible, we need to have a plan for it,” Ilerion said.

Russians withdraw cash and plot emigration Source link Russians withdraw cash and plot emigration

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