MOSCOW (AP) _ The Russian Central Bank is intervening in currency markets to keep the ruble from rising against the dollar, a top bank official said Friday.

Tatyana Paramonova, the deputy chairman of the Central Bank, said the bank was selling rubles and buying foreign currency to push the ruble down.

``If we didn't do this, the ruble would be strengthening,'' Paramonova was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

Russia's increased exports have put upward pressure on the ruble, she said.

Russia's export earnings have been boosted by high prices for oil, of which Russia is a major producer and seller. Dollars earned by exporters are exchanged for rubles, increasing the demand for the ruble and driving up its value.

But Russian officials don't want the ruble to rise. A lower ruble has been key to Russia's modest recovery from the August 1998 financial collapse, since it makes imports expensive and helps domestic producers compete.

The ruble is now at about 28 to the U.S. dollar, as opposed to around six to the dollar before the 1998 crisis.