Starting this week, the Russian central bank will pay a fixed price of 5,000 roubles ($52) per gram between March 28 and June 30, the bank said on Friday. This is below the current market value of around $68.
The central bank added that the resumption in buying will ensure supply and uninterrupted production of local gold.
Two weeks ago, Russia's central bank announced that it was halting its official gold purchases from local banks due to a surge in demand from regular consumers.
This is because Russians went on a gold buying spree in March to protect their savings as the ruble collapsed. Major banks in Russia reported a rush of consumers investing in bullion and coins.
Sberbank, Russia's largest financial institution, reported that demand for gold and palladium has quadrupled in the last few weeks. Meanwhile, Russia's Ministry of Finance also referred to gold as an "ideal alternative" to the U.S. dollar.
Setting a fixed price for gold reminds some analysts of what the U.S. did during the “gold standard” years. The period between 1879 and 1914 is known as the classical gold standard era, during which one ounce of gold would represent $21. Then in the 1930s, the U.S. banned gold ownership and raised the value of the dollar in gold from $20.67 to $35 per ounce.
That price remained fixed until 1971 when Richard Nixon put a halt on the U.S. dollar's convertibility into gold, which meant that other countries could no longer redeem dollars for gold. In 1973 the gold standard was scrapped.
"I am reminded of what the U.S. did in the middle of the Great Depression. For the next 40 years, gold's price was pegged to the U.S. dollar at $35. There is a precedent for this. It leads me to believe that Russia's intention would be for the value of the ruble to be linked directly to the value of gold," Gainesville Coins precious metals expert Everett Millman told Kitco News. "Setting a fixed price for rubles per gram of gold seems to be the intention. That's pretty important when it comes to how Russia could seek funding and manage its central bank financing outside of the U.S. dollar system."
Gold is one of the most logical international currencies to use when you are trying to get around sanctions, Millman added.