It was a close call, but German Gref somehow managed late last week to keep from violating a new law aimed at restoring pride in the national currency of Russia. Or, at least, it will become law as soon as parliament passes it, which is expected soon. The ruble has had a troubled history, as you may know. In fact, eight years ago this month, it was devalued by the Central Bank and went into free fall. But there has been improvement in the economy since then, especially in the oil and natural-gas sector, where Russia is a major player. Which brings us back to German Gref. He heads the Economy Ministry in President Vladimir Putin's government, and he was describing to a televised meeting of the cabinet how an investment is about to be made in Tomsk, an important energy-producing city in Siberia. The amount, he said, will be to the tune of "30 million ..." But there he stopped, remembering that impending law, under which even cabinet ministers will be subject to fines for uttering the word "dollar." He shuffled nervously through some notes as though trying to regain his composure, until a colleague whispered to him. At that point, Gref brightened. "Ah, yes," he said: "700 million rubles, thank you – 30 million not rubles."