The Russian rouble was down slightly in Wednesday trading, while stocks gained ground, shielded from the widespread global sell-off of recent days by Moscow's capital controls.

At 1330 GMT, the rouble shed 0.5% against the dollar at 56.89 and was down 0.3% to trade at 59.35 against the euro.

The currency remains near multi-year highs thanks to Russia's surging current account surplus and capital controls - recently softened - that Moscow introduced after the imposition of Western sanctions in a bid to stop a run on the rouble.

"Exporters are continuing to sell foreign exchange earnings, but demand is low because of falling imports," said Yulia Melnikova, an analyst at Alfa Capital.

"We should not expect a rapid recovery in imports that might impact the rouble exchange rate. Therefore we do not see prerequisites for any strong currency movements in the near future," she added.

Insulated from the turmoil on global stage and with international investors largely frozen out of the market, Russian stock indexes advanced in trading in Moscow.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 0.8% to 1,283.2 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 1.25% higher at 2,318.14 points.

"The main driving force of the (Russian) stock market has become retail investors," Moscow-based VTB Capital said in a research note on Wednesday, noting how the flagship indexes have proved relatively stable following a four-week suspension of trading in late February and March.

"Stock prices are now much less driven by fundamental factors, and more by technical factors and the psychology of the mass investor," it added.

Russia's political and business elite descended on St. Petersburg on Wednesday for Russia's annual economic forum.

Once a symbol of the Kremlin's openness to international investment, this year's conference features panels addressing sanctions and a lack of Western businesses.

Hundreds of companies have pulled out of Russia in response to Moscow sending tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in what it calls a "special military operation".

(Reporting by Reuters, Editing by Mark Potter and Angus MacSwan)