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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 13:45 GMT
Limits imposed on Ukrainian banks
Yanukovych supporter
The true extent of economic disruption is still far from clear
Ukraine's central bank has imposed limits on how many dollars customers can buy to reduce the risk of a run on the country's currency, the hryvna.

The new rules cap currency exchange at $1,000 (523) in any location, and limit withdrawals from ATMs.

The tense political situation following the disputed presidential election, now nine days old, has provoked people into withdrawing their savings.

The central bank has spent millions on intervention to keep the hryvna stable.

Aside from the cash machine limit of 1,500 hryvna ($280; 150) a day, companies are banned from withdrawing more than 80,000 hryvna a month beyond the money they need to pay wages and social security.

Deadlock

The financial disruption, as trade reportedly stagnates and tens of thousands of protestors from both sides of the dispute stay on the streets, has accompanied escalating tension.

Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych - anointed successor of the current President, Leonid Kuchma, and seen as a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin - was at first announced the narrow winner of the 21 November presidential poll.

But huge street demonstrations have accused his backers of fixing the election to shut out the opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko.

Foreign observers have criticised the election, detailing multiple concerns with the conduct of the campaign, the ballot and vote counting.

Mr Yanukovych's own supporters are now out in force as well.

The parliament is deadlocked on a no-confidence motion, while the Supreme Court considers complaints from both sides.

Explosive statements

Earlier this week, National Bank chief Arseniy Yatsenyuk warned that statements from politicians were scaring the population into panic cash withdrawals.

On Monday, President Kuchma had said that cash was running out.

"A few more days and the financial system could fall apart like a house of cards," he said, warning that unpaid taxes and sliding customs duties could bring down the government.

The central bank, meanwhile, spent $400m to prop up the hryvna, of a total foreign exchange reserve of about $10bn.




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Tension remains high in the country



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