Euro Attracts Novelty Interest
Jan. 03, 2002
YEKATERINBURG, Russia (AP) _ Even in Yekaterinburg on the edge of Asian Russia, the European Union's new unified currency attracted some interest on Thursday _ possibly out of a sense of adventure.
At Alfa-Bank, 11 people came in to change rubles for euros the first day the bank offered them, said cashier Natalya Glukhova. In all, they exchanged rubles for about 1,200 euros worth $1,080, Glukhova said.
Why they wanted the currency in this city on the western edge of Russian Asia wasn't clear. Glukhova speculated they were preparing for European vacations. Another employee had a more psychological spin.
``It seems to me that the majority of the people buying euros are driven by excitement, the desire for a new feeling, novelty,'' said Tatyana Golovach.
The U.S. dollar and the German mark have been the foreign currencies of choice in the post-Soviet years.
In Yekaterinburg, some exchange mavens paid no attention to the euro _ such as the half-dozen tough-looking young guys outside the banks selling dollars for five or 10 kopecks under the bank rates.
``We haven't seen euros with our own eyes, and they don't interest us,'' said one of the men.
But one local banker said the euro is likely to attract a lot of interest, including from the wrong people.
``Certainly there will be counterfeits. In my view, it would be a shame not to make counterfeits and not travel through all of Europe with a single currency in your hand,'' Irina Yurasova of Uralvneshtorgbank said with a smile.