When I arrived in Russia in 2000, the country was in ruins -- the currency crash of 1998 had completed wrecked the country's economy. There were quite a few government offices that didn't stay open past 4:00pm in the winter because they couldn't afford lightbulbs.
We got paid in rubles, then, but pegged to a dollar rate. I think it was 29 to the dollar or something like that when I arrived, reaching a high of 32 in 2003.
Then came George Bush's invasion of Iraq, and oil prices began to go through the roof. Russia suddenly found itself wealthy with oil money. Huge office complexes, towering modern apartment blocks, and shopping malls by the score opened in Moscow and St. Petersberg, and this trickled down to the provinces by 2004.
The dollar fell and fell against the ruble. Our salaries went up a bit, but couldn't even remotely keep up with inflation or the falling dollar.
Fortunately in 2006, becoming Director of Studies saw my salary go up quite a bit; and here they stopped referring to a dollar rate and simply started giving me a set sum in rubles. Naturally private lessons on the side continued to pay well.
Merely a couple of months ago, the dollar rate stood at 23.8 rubles.
Until now, of course, when it has shot up over the course of a couple months to 26.5.
(For example, if you have 25,000 rubles in savings, it has gone from $1050 to $943 -- more than a hundred bucks, or ten percent, gone.)
Of couse, most people don't save anything here anyway -- there is something to be said for blowing all your money on alcohol, I suppose.