Soviet ruble

Soviet ruble
советский рубль (in Russian)
Rouble-1961-Paper-1-Obverse.jpg 1 ruble 1988.jpg
Obverse of 1 руб banknote (1961) 1 руб coin (1988)
ISO 4217
Code SUR
Number 810
 1/100 kopek (копейка)
Plural rubli (nom. pl.), rubley (gen. pl.)
 kopek (копейка) kopeyki (nom. pl.), kopeyek (gen. pl.)
Symbol руб
 kopek (копейка) к
Banknotes 1 руб, 3 руб, 5 руб, 10 руб, 25 руб, 50 руб, 100 руб, 200 руб, 500 руб, 1,000 руб
Coins 1к, 2к, 3к, 5к, 10к, 15к, 20к, 50к, 1 руб, 3 руб, 5 руб, 10 руб
Date of introduction 1917
Replaced Russian ruble
Date of withdrawal 1993
Replaced by see below
User(s)  Russian SFSR (1917-1991)
 Soviet Union (1922-1991)
 Ukrainian SSR (1919-1992)
 Byelorussian SSR (1919-1992)
 Commonwealth of Independent States (1991-1993)
Central bank State Bank of the Soviet Union
Printer Goznak
Mint Leningrad (1921–1941; 1946–1991)
Krasnokamsk (1941–46)
Moscow (1982–1991)
This infobox shows the latest status before this currency was rendered obsolete.

The Soviet ruble (Russian: рубль; see below for other languages of the USSR) was the currency of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) from 1917 and later the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). One ruble (рубль) was divided into 100 kopeks (Russian: копе́йка, pl. копе́йкиkopeyka, kopeyki). Many of the ruble designs were created by Ivan Dubasov. The production of Soviet rubles was the responsibility of the Federal State Unitary Enterprise, or Goznak, which was in charge of the printing of and materials production for banknotes and the minting of coins in Moscow and Leningrad. In addition to regular currency, some other currency units were used, such as several forms of convertible ruble, transferable ruble, clearing ruble, Vneshtorgbank cheque, etc.; also, several forms of virtual rubles (called "non-cash ruble" or "cashless ruble": "Безналичный рубль" beznalichny rubl) were used for inter-enterprise accounting and international settlement in the Comecon zone.[1] In 1991, after the breakup of the USSR, the Soviet ruble continued to be used in the post-Soviet states, forming a "ruble zone", until it was replaced with the Russian ruble in September 1993.


The word ruble is derived from the Slavic verb рубить, rubit', i.e., 'to chop'. Historically, a "ruble" was a piece of a certain weight chopped off a silver ingot (grivna), hence the name.

The word kopek, kopeck, copeck, or kopeyka (in Russian: копейка) is a diminutive form of the Russian kop'yo (копьё)—a spear. The reason for this is that a horseman armed with a spear was stamped on one of the faces of the coin. The first kopek coins, minted at Novgorod and Pskov from about 1534 onwards, show a horseman with a spear. From the 1540s onwards the horseman bears a crown, and doubtless the intention was to represent Ivan the Terrible, who was Grand Prince of all Russia until 1547, and Tsar thereafter. Subsequent mintings of the coin, starting in the 18th century, bear instead Saint George striking down a serpent.

Ruble in the Soviet Union

The Soviet currency had its own name in all the languages of the Soviet Union, often different from its Russian designation. All banknotes had the currency name and their nominal printed in the languages of every Soviet Republic. This naming is preserved in modern Russia; for example: Tatar for 'ruble' and 'kopek' are сум (sum) and тиен (tiyen). The current names of several currencies of Central Asia are simply the local names of the ruble. Finnish last appeared on 1947 banknotes since the Karelo-Finnish SSR was dissolved in 1956.

The name of the currency in the languages of the fifteen republics, in the order they appeared in the banknotes:

Language In local language IPA Transcription
ruble kopek ruble kopek
Russian рубль копейка [ˈrublʲ] (About this soundlisten) [kɐˈpʲejkə] (About this soundlisten)
Belarusian рубель капейка [ˈrubʲɛlʲ] [kaˈpʲɛjka] (About this soundlisten)
Ukrainian карбованець копійка [kɐrˈbovɑnet͡sʲ] (About this soundlisten) [koˈpijkɐ] (About this soundlisten)
Uzbek сўм тийин [som] [tijin]
Kazakh сом тиын [swʊm] [tɪjən]
Kyrgyz сом тыйын [som] [ˈtɯjɯn]
Tajik сӯм тин [sɵm] [tin]
Georgian მანეთი კაპიკი [mɑnɛtʰi] [kʼɑpʼik’i]
Azerbaijani манат гәпик [mɑnɑt] [ɡæpik]
Turkmen манат көпүк [mɑnɑt] [kœpʏk]
Lithuanian rublis kapeika [ˈrʊbɫɪs] [kɐˈpɛɪkɐ]
Latvian rublis kapeika [ˈrublis] [ˈkapɛika]
Estonian rubla kopikas [ˈrublɑ] [ˈkopikɑs]
Romanian рублэ/rublă копейкэ/copeică [ˈrublə] [koˈpejkə]
Armenian ռուբլի կոպեկ [ˈrubli] [ˈkɔpɛk]

Note that the scripts for Uzbek, Azerbaijani, Turkmen and gradually Kazakh have switched from Cyrillic to Latin since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Moldovan has switched to Latin and is once again referred to as Romanian.

These fifteen names derive from four roots:

Historical Soviet rubles

First Soviet ruble

The first ruble issued for the Soviet government was a preliminary issue still based on the previous issue of the ruble prior to the Russian Revolution of 1917. They are all in banknote form and started their issue in 1919. At this time other issues were made by the white Russian government and other governing bodies.

Denominations were as follows: 1 руб, 2 руб, 3 руб, 5 руб, 10 руб, 15 руб, 25 руб, 50 руб, 60 руб, 100 руб, 250 руб, 500 руб, 1,000 руб, 5,000 руб, 10,000 руб, 25,000 руб, 50,000 руб and 100,000 руб. Short term treasury certificate were also issued to supplement banknote issue in 1,000,000 руб, 5,000,000 руб and 10,000,000 руб. These issue was printed in various fashions, as inflation crept up the security features were few and some were printed on one side, as was the case for the German inflationary notes.

In 1918, state credit notes were introduced by the RSFSR for 1 руб, 3 руб, 5 руб, 10 руб, 25 руб, 50 руб, 100 руб, 250 руб, 500 руб, 1,000 руб, 5,000 руб and 10,000 руб. These were followed in 1919 by currency notes for 1 руб, 2 руб, 3 руб, 15 руб, 20 руб, 60 руб, 100 руб, 250 руб, 500 руб, 1,000 руб, 5,000 руб and 10,000 руб. In 1921, currency note denominations of 5 руб, 50 руб, 25,000 руб, 50,000 руб, 100,000 руб, 1,000,000 руб, 5,000,000 руб and 10,000,000 руб were added.

Second Soviet ruble, January 1 – December 31, 1922

Silver ruble of 1922

In 1922, the first of several redenominations took place, at a rate of 1 "new" ruble for 10,000 "old" rubles. The chervonets (червонец) was also introduced in 1922. This currency was short-lived, lasting only a full year.

Only state currency notes were issued for this currency, in denominations of 1 руб, 3 руб, 5 руб, 10 руб, 25 руб, 50 руб, 100 руб, 250 руб, 500 руб, 1,000 руб, 5,000 руб and 10,000 руб.

Third Soviet ruble, January 1, 1923 – March 6, 1924

A second redenomination took place in 1923, at a rate of 100 to 1. Again, only paper money was issued. During the lifetime of this currency, the first money of the Soviet Union was issued. This currency was short-lived, not lasting long after Vladimir Lenin's death, only a little over two months longer than its predecessor.

1924 poltinnik (½-ruble).

The first coinage after the Russian civil war was minted in 1921–1923 with silver coins in denominations of 10к, 15к, 20к and 50к and 1 руб. Gold chervonets were issued in 1923. These coins bore the emblem and legends of the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) and depicted the famous slogan, "Workers of the world, Unite!". The 10к, 15к, and 20к were minted with a purity of 50% silver while the ruble and half-ruble were minted with a purity of 90% silver. The chervonetz was 90% gold. These coins would continue to circulate after the RSFSR was consolidated into the USSR with other Soviet Republics until the discontinuation of silver coinage in 1931.

As with the previous currency, only state currency notes were issued, in denominations of 50 kopeks, 1 руб, 5 руб, 10 руб, 25 руб, 50 руб, 100 руб, 250 руб, 500 руб, 1,000 руб, 5,000 руб and 10,000 руб. In early 1924, just before the next redenomination, the first paper money was issued in the name of the USSR, featuring the state emblem with 6 bands around the wheat, representing the languages of the then 4 constituent republics of the Union: Russian SFSR, Transcaucasian SFSR (Azerbaijani, Armenian, and Georgian), Ukrainian SSR and Byelorussian SSR. They were dated 1923 and were in denominations of 10,000 руб, 15,000 руб, and 25,000 руб.

Fourth (gold) Soviet ruble, March 7, 1924 – 1947

After Joseph Stalin's consolidation of power following the death of Lenin, he launched a third redenomination in 1924 by introducing the "gold" ruble at a value of 50,000 rubles of the previous issue. This reform also saw the ruble linked to the chervonets, at a value of 10 руб and put an end to chronic inflation. Coins began to be issued again in 1924, while paper money was issued in rubles for values below 10 rubles and in chervonets for higher denominations.

In 1924, copper coins were introduced in denominations of 1к, 2к, 3к and 5к, together with new silver 10к, 15к and 20к, 1 poltinnik (50к) and 1 руб. From this issue onward, the coins were minted in the name of the USSR (Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics). The "Workers of the World" slogan was carried forward. However, 1921–1923 coins were allowed to continue circulating. Copper ½к coins were also introduced in 1925. The copper coins were minted in two types; plain edge and reeded edge, with the plain-edged types being the fewest in number. The silver coins once again had the same silver purity as the previous issues. The 1-ruble coin was only issued in 1924 and production of the poltinnik (50к) was stopped in 1927, while the ½к coin ceased to be minted in 1928. Coins of this period were issued in the same sizes as the coins previously used during the Czarist period. In 1926, smaller, aluminium-bronze coins were minted to replace the large copper 1к, 2к, 3к and 5к coins, but were not released until 1928. The larger coins were then melted down.

1926 issue
Image Value Diameter Mass Minted
1 коп. СССР 1931 г.jpg 15 1 1926-1935
2 коп. СССР 1931 г.jpg 18 2 1926-1935
3 коп. СССР 1931 г.jpg 22 3 1926-1935
5 коп. СССР 1931 г.jpg 25 5 1926-1935
10 копеек СССР 1931 г.jpg 10к 17,27 1,8 1931-1934
15 копеек СССР 1931 г.jpg 15к 19,56 2,7 1931-1934
20 копеек СССР 1931 г.jpg 20к 21,84 3,6 1931-1934

A shortage of silver coins had perpetually dogged the Soviet economy in the 1920s and silver was becoming too expensive to use, with much of it needing to be imported. By 1930 the silver coin shortage had become acute and Soviet authorities scapegoated "hoarders" and "exchange speculators" as responsible for the shortages, and confiscatory measures were taken. In 1931, the remaining silver coins were replaced with redesigned cupro-nickel coins depicting a male worker holding up a shield which contained the denominations of each. All silver coins were to be returned and melted down. In 1935, the reverse of the 10к, 15к, and 20к coins were redesigned again with a more simple Art Deco inspired design, with the obverse of all denominations also redesigned, having the "Workers of the world, unite!" slogan dropped. The change of the obverse designs did not affect all 1к, 2к, 3к, and 5к coins immediately, as some 1935 issues bore the "Workers of the World" design while some bore the new "CCCP" design. The state emblem also went through a series of changes between 1935 and 1957 as new soviet republics were added or created, this can be noted by the number of "ribbons" wrapped around the wheat sheaves. This coin series remained in circulation during and after the monetary reform of 1947 and was finally discontinued in 1961.

1935 issue
Image Value Diameter Mass Minting
1 коп. СССР 1938 г.jpg 15 1 1935-1941

1945-1946 1948-1957

2 коп. СССР 1938 г.jpg 18 2 1935-1941

1945-1946 1948-1957

3 коп. СССР 1938 г.jpg 22 3 1935-1941 1943

1945-1946 1948-1957

5 коп. СССР 1938 г.jpg 25 5 1935-1941 1943

1945-1946 1948-1957

10 коп. СССР 1938 г.jpg 10к 17,27 1,8 1935-1946


15 коп. СССР 1938 г.jpg 15к 19,56 2,7 1935-1946


20 коп. СССР 1938 г.jpg 20к 21,84 3,6 1935-1946


In August 1941, the wartime emergency prompted the minting facilities to be evacuated from the Neva district in Moscow and relocated to Permskaya Oblast as German forces continued to advance eastward. It only became possible to resume coin production in the autumn of 1942, for one year the country was using coins made before the war. Furthermore, the coins were made of what had suddenly become precious metals – copper and nickel, which were needed for the defense industry. This meant many coins were being produced in only limited quantities, with some denominations being skipped altogether until the crisis finally abated in late 1944. These disruptions led to severe coin shortages in many regions. Limits were put in place on how much change could be carried in coins with limits of 3 руб for individuals and 10 руб for vendors to prevent hoarding as coins became increasingly high in demand. Only high inflation and wartime rationing helped ease pressure significantly. In some instances, postage stamps and coupons were being used in place of small denomination coins. It was not until 1947 that there were finally enough coins in circulation to meet economic demand and restrictions could be eased.

In 1924, state currency notes were introduced for 1, 3 and 5 gold rubles (рубль золотом). These circulated alongside the chervonets (чрв) notes introduced in 1922 by the State Bank in denominations of 1 чрв, 3 чрв, 5 чрв, 10 чрв and 25 чрв. State Treasury notes replaced the state currency notes after 1928. In 1938, new notes were issued for 1 руб, 3 руб and 5 руб, dropping the word "gold".

1938 Series
Image Denomination Obverse Reverse
1rouble1938b.jpg1rouble1938a.jpg 1 руб Miner
3roubles1938b.jpg3roubles1938a.jpg 3 руб Soldiers
5roubles1938b.jpg5roubles1938a.jpg 5 руб Pilot
1chervonetz1937a.jpg1chervonetz1937b.jpg 1 чрв Lenin
3chervontza1937a.jpg3chervontza1937b.jpg 3 чрв
5roubles1937b.JPG5roubles1937a.jpg 5 чрв
Десять червонцев.jpg10roubles1937a.jpg 10 чрв

Fifth Soviet ruble, 1947–1961

Following World War II, the Soviet government implemented a confiscatory redenomination of its currency (decreed on December 14th, 1947) to reduce the amount of money in circulation. The main purpose of this change was to prevent peasants who had accumulated cash by selling food at wartime prices from using this to buy consumer goods as the postwar recovery took hold.[2] Old rubles were revalued at one tenth of their face value. This mainly affected paper money in the hands of private individuals. Amounts of 3,000 руб or less in individual bank accounts were not revalued, while salaries remained the same. This revaluation coincided with the end of wartime rationing and efforts to lower prices and curtail inflation, though the effects in some cases actually resulted in higher inflation. Unlike other reforms, this one did not affect coins.

In 1947, State Treasury notes were introduced for denominations of 1 руб, 3 руб and 5 руб, along with State Bank notes for denominations of 10 руб, 25 руб, 50 руб and 100 руб. The State Bank notes depicted Lenin while the Treasury notes depicted floral artistic designs. All denominations were colored and patterned in a similar fashion to late Czarist notes.

In 1957, all these notes were reissued with the old date but modified design: because of the abolition of the Karelo-Finnish SSR, the number of ribbons on the state emblem was reduced from 16 to 15, and the nominal in Finnish was removed from the obverse.

1947 Series
Image Denomination Obverse Reverse


1 руб State Emblem of the Soviet Union
3roubles1947b.jpg3roubles1947a.jpg 3 руб
5roubles1947b.jpg5roubles1947a.jpg 5 руб
10roubles1947b.jpg10roubles1947a.jpg 10 руб Vladimir Lenin
25roubles1947b.jpg25roubles1947a.jpg 25 руб
50 roubles à l'effigie de Lénine, 1947.jpgSUR 50 1947 B.jpg 50 руб
SUR 100 1947 F.jpgSUR 100 1947 B.jpg 100 руб Moscow Kremlin

Sixth Soviet ruble, 1961–1991, (Identified as ISO code SUR)

Two 10 руб coins introduced in 1978 to commemorate the 1980 Summer Olympics

The 1961 redenomination introduced 1 new ruble equal to 10 old rubles and restated all wages, prices and financial records into new rubles. It differed from the confiscatory nature of the 1947 reform when banknotes were reduced to 1/10th of its value but wages & prices remained the same.[3] Its parity to the US dollar underwent a devaluation, however, from $1US = 4 old rubles (0.4 new ruble) to $1 = 0.9 new ruble (or 90 kopeks). It implies a gold parity of 31.5 SUR per troy ounce or 1 SUR = 0.987412 gram of gold, but this exchange for gold was never available to the general public.

The 1958 pattern series: By 1958, plans for a monetary reform were underway and a number of coin pattern designs were being experimented with before implementation. The most notable of these was the 1958 series, in denominations of 1к, 2к, 3к, and 5к in copper-zinc, and 10к, 15к, 20к, and 50к and 1 руб, 3 руб, and 5 руб in copper nickel. These coins all had the same basic design and became the most likely for release. Indeed, they were mass-produced before the plan was scrapped and a majority of them were melted down. During this time, 1957 coins would continue to be restruck off old dies until the new coin series was officially released in 1961. This series is considered the most valuable of Soviet issues due to their scarcity.

On January 1, 1961 the currency was revalued again at a rate of 10:1, but this time a new coinage was introduced in denominations of 1к, 2к, 3к and 5к in aluminium-bronze, and 10к, 15к, 20к and 50к and 1 руб in cupro-nickel-zinc. Like previous issues, the front featured the state arms and title while the back depicted date and denomination. The 50к and 1 руб coins dated 1961 had plain edges, but starting in 1964, the edges were lettered with the denomination and date. All 1926–1957 coins were then withdrawn from circulation and demonetized, with the majority melted down.

Commemorative coins of the Soviet Union: In 1965, the first circulation commemorative ruble coin was released celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany, during this year the first uncirculated mint-coin sets were also released and restrictions on coin collecting were eased. In 1967, a commemorative series of 10к, 15к, 20к, 50к, and 1 руб coins was released, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution and depicted Lenin and various socialist achievements. The smaller bronze denominations for that year remained unchanged. Many different circulation commemorative 1 руб coins were also released, as well as a handful of 3 руб and 5 руб over the years. Commemorative coins from this period were always slightly larger than general issues, 50к and 1 руб coins in particular were larger, while the 1967 series of the small denominations were the same circumference but thicker than general issues. Initially, commemorative rubles were struck in the same alloy as other circulating coins until 1975, when the metallurgic composition was changed to a higher-quality copper-nickel alloy that excluded zinc in the composition.

Starting in 1991 with the final year of the 1961 coin series, both kopeck and ruble coins began depicting the mint marks (М) for Moscow, and (Л) for Leningrad.

1961 issue
Image Value Diameter Mass Issued
1 копейка СССР 1990 г.jpg 15 1 1961-1991
2 копейки СССР 1973 г.jpg 18 2 1961-1991
3Kopeks1977.PNG 22 3 1961-1962


5Kopeks1989.PNG 25 5 1961-1962


10 копеек СССР 1983 г.jpg 10к 17,27 1,8 1961-1962


15 копеек СССР 1983 г.jpg 15к 19,56 2,5 1961-1962


20 копеек СССР 1982 г.jpg 20к 21,8 3,4 1961-1962


50 копеек СССР 1989 г.jpg 50к 24 4,4 1961


1 ruble 1988.jpg 1 руб 27 7,5 1961


Banknotes were issued in denominations of 1 руб, 3 руб, 5 руб, 10 руб, 25 руб, 50 руб, and 100 руб, with similar colours to the previous series, but this time much smaller in size. The notes again depicted Lenin on the higher denominations and buildings at the Moscow Kremlin.

1961 Series
Image Value
Obverse Reverse
Rouble-1961-Paper-1-Obverse.jpg Rouble-1961-Paper-1-Reverse.jpg 1 руб
Soviet Union-1961-Bill-3-Obverse.jpg Soviet Union-1961-Bill-3-Reverse.jpg 3 руб
Soviet Union-1961-Bill-5-Obverse.jpg Soviet Union-1961-Bill-5-Reverse.jpg 5 руб
SUR 10 1961 obverse.jpg SUR 10 1961 reverse.jpg 10 руб
Soviet Union-1961-Bill-25-Obverse.jpg Soviet Union-1961-Bill-25-Reverse.jpg 25 руб
SUR 50 1961 obverse.jpg SUR 50 1961 reverse.jpg 50 руб
SUR 100 1961 obverse.jpg SUR 100 1961 reverse.jpg 100 руб

Seventh Soviet ruble, 1991–1993

The Monetary Reform of 1991 was carried out by Mikhail Gorbachev and was known also as the Pavlov Reform. It was the last of such in the Soviet Union and began on January 22, 1991. Its architect was Minister of Finance Valentin Pavlov, who also became the last prime minister of the Soviet Union. The details included a brief period to exchange old 1961-dated 50 руб and 100 руб notes for new 1991 notes — for three days from 23 to 25 January (Wednesday to Friday) and with a specific limit of no more than 1,000 руб per person—the ability to exchange other notes considered in the special commissions to the end of March 1991. See Monetary reform in the Soviet Union, 1991.

In late 1991, a new coinage was introduced in denominations of 10к and 50к, and 1 руб, 5 руб and 10 руб. The 10к coin was struck in brass-plated steel, the 50к coin, and 1 руб and 5 руб coins were in cupro-nickel and the 10 руб coin was bimetallic with an aluminium-bronze centre and a cupro-nickel-zinc ring. The series depicts an image of the Kremlin on the obverse rather than the Soviet state emblem. However, this coin series was extremely short-lived as the Soviet Union ceased to exist only months after its release. It did, however, continue to be used in several former soviet republics including Russia and particularly Tajikistan for a short time after the union had ceased to exist out of necessity.

Banknotes for this ruble were nearly identical in background colour and size for all denominations compared to the 1961 series, but included more colour and heightened security features. The 25 руб note was omitted from this series, but still remained legal tender; all 1961 notes apart from the demonetized 50 руб and 100 руб were usable. An important modification of the design included the removal of the texts in languages of other Soviet republics (i.e. all texts were in Russian only) in the 1992 issues; all 1991 notes (in exception to the 2nd 1991 100 руб banknote) contained all Soviet languages. In this series, 1 руб notes were issued 27/6/1991, 3 руб notes on 3/11/1991, 5 руб notes on 5/7/1991, 10 руб notes on 10/7/1991, 50 руб and 100 руб notes on 23/1/1991, 200 руб notes on 29/10/1991, and 500 руб notes on 24/12/1991. 1,000 руб notes were issued in March 1992, after the Soviet collapse. New 1992-dated notes, similar in appearance to the 1991 issues, were struck in the denominations 50-1,000 руб bearing the Soviet state emblem and name. A notable exception was that the more-colourful 100 руб note of this series was still dated 1991 unlike the others.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, many newly independent republics chose to continue circulating Soviet rubles even after the introduction of the new Russian ruble in 1992.

1991 Series
Image Value
Obverse Reverse
SUR 1 1991 F.jpg SUR 1 1991 B.jpg 1 руб
SUR 3 1991 F.jpg SUR 3 1991 B.jpg 3 руб
SUR 5 1991 F.jpg SUR 5 1991 B.jpg 5 руб
SUR 10 1991 F.jpg SUR 10 1991 B.jpg 10 руб
SUR 50 1991 F.jpg SUR 50 1991 B.jpg 50 руб
SUR 100 1991 F.jpg SUR 100 1991 B.jpg 100 руб
SUR 200 1991 F.jpg SUR 200 1991 B.jpg 200 руб
SUR 500 1991 F.jpg SUR 500 1991 B.jpg 500 руб
SUR 1000 1991 F.jpg SUR 1000 1991 B.jpg 1,000 руб

Economic role

The Soviet Union ran a planned economy, where the government controlled prices and the exchange of currency. Thus the Soviet ruble did not function like a currency in a market economy, because mechanisms other than currency, such as centrally planned quotas controlled the distribution of goods. Consequently, the ruble did not have the utility of a true currency; instead, it more resembled the scrip issued in a truck system. Soviet citizens could freely purchase a set of products with rubles, but choice was limited. Prices were always political decisions, having no connection to manufacturing cost. For example, bread was cheap and public transport practically free, but there was a shortage of manufactured consumer goods and wages were low, implementing a hidden tax.[4] It was common to hold large savings in rubles in the sberkassa, a kind of a "bank", because credit was not available. Special rubles used in accounting were not exchangeable to cash, and were effectively different currency units. The currency was not internationally exchangeable and its export was illegal. In bilateral trade, a separate, non-exchangeable "clearing ruble" was used.[5] There were separate shops (Beryozkas) for purchasing goods obtained with hard currencies. However, Soviet citizens could not legally own foreign currency. Thus, if they legally received payment in foreign currency, they were forced to convert it to Vneshposyltorg cheques at a rate set by the government. These cheques could be spent at a Beryozka. The sudden transformation from a Soviet "non-currency" into a market currency contributed to the economic hardship following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991.[4][6][7]

Historical exchange rates

Chart of Soviet ruble exchange rates against major world currencies, 1 February 1985

The Soviet Union officially valued the ruble in the planned economy at an average of $1.35 (or 0.74 руб per U.S. dollar; see below) from 1971-88. However, as the ruble was not internationally exchangeable and as Soviet citizens cannot legally own foreign currency, rubles changed hands in the black market at an average of 4.14 руб per dollar in the same period 1971-88.[8] The opening up of the economy in the late 1980s under perestroika resulted in the recognition of more realistic exchange rates for the ruble, as follows:

  • In November 1989 the ruble was devalued for foreign travel to a tourist rate of 6.26 руб per dollar (versus 0.6277 руб officially).[9]
  • In November 1990 a new commercial exchange rate of 1.80 руб per dollar was introduced. During this time, however, black market dollars changed hands at 20 руб.[10]
  • In April 1991, following the failed monetary reform of 1991, the tourist exchange rate was raised significantly to 27.6 руб per dollar, making the average monthly Soviet salary of 330 руб worth only $12.[11]
  • Further pain would continue later that year with the dollar changing hands at 35-40 руб in the black market and 45-70 руб in government auctions as of October 1991.[12]
  • By early December 1991, just before the Soviet Union ceased to exist, the ruble was valued at nearly 100 to the dollar. [13]

Official exchange rates Soviet ruble of the time per United States dollar:[14]

Date SUR of the time per USD USD per SUR of the time
1924-01-01 2.2000 руб $0.4545
1924-04-01 1.9405 руб $0.5153
1927-01-01 1.9450 руб $0.5141
1928-02-01 1.9434 руб $0.5145
1933-04-01 1.9434 руб $0.5145
1933-05-01 1.7474 руб $0.5722
1934-01-01 1.2434 руб $0.8042
1935-01-01 1.1509 руб $0.8689
1936-01-01 1.1516 руб $0.8684
1937-01-01 5.0400 руб $0.1984
1937-07-19 5.3000 руб $0.1887
1950-02-01 5.3000 руб $0.1887
1950-03-01 4.0000 руб $0.2500
1960-12-01 4.0000 руб $0.2500
1961-01-01 0.9000 руб $1.1111
1971-12-01 0.9000 руб $1.1111
1972-01-01 0.8290 руб $1.2063
1973-01-01 0.8260 руб $1.2107
1974-01-01 0.7536 руб $1.3270
1975-01-01 0.7300 руб $1.3699
1976-01-01 0.7580 руб $1.3193
1977-01-01 0.7420 руб $1.3477
1978-01-01 0.7060 руб $1.4164
1979-01-01 0.6590 руб $1.5175
1980-01-03 0.6395 руб $1.5637
1981-01-01 0.6750 руб $1.4815
1982-01-01 0.7080 руб $1.4124
1983-01-13 0.7070 руб $1.4144
1984-01-01 0.7910 руб $1.2642
1985-02-28 0.9200 руб $1.0870
1986-01-01 0.7585 руб $1.3184
1987-01-01 0.6700 руб $1.4925
1988-01-06 0.5804 руб $1.7229
1989-01-04 0.6059 руб $1.6504
1990-01-03 0.6072 руб $1.6469
1991-01-02 0.5605 руб $1.7841
1991-02-13 0.5450 руб $1.8349
1992-01-01 0.5549 руб $1.8021

Replacement currencies in the former Soviet republics

Shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, local currencies were introduced in the newly independent states. Most of the new economies were weak and hence most of the currencies have undergone significant reforms since their introduction. In the very beginning of the post-Soviet economic transition, it was widely believed by ordinary people and monetary institutions (including the International Monetary Fund) that it was possible to maintain a common currency working for all or at least for some of the former Soviet Union’s countries.[citation needed] The wish to preserve the strong trade relations between former Soviet republics was considered the most important goal.[citation needed]

During the first half of 1992, a monetary union with 15 independent states all using the ruble existed. Since it was clear that the situation would not last, each of them was using its position as "free-riders" to issue huge amounts of money in the form of credit (since Russia held the monopoly on printing banknotes and coins). As a result, some countries were issuing coupons in order to "protect" their markets from buyers from other states.[citation needed] This also started to cause massive inflation in the formerly high-valued currency. The Russian central bank responded in July 1992 by setting up restrictions on the flow of credit between Russia and other states. The final collapse of the "ruble zone" began with the exchange of banknotes by the Central Bank of Russia on Russian territory at the end of July 1993. As a result, other countries still in the ruble zone (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Moldova, Armenia and Georgia) were "pushed out".[citation needed] By November 1993 all newly independent states had introduced their own currencies, with the exception of war-torn Tajikistan (May 1995) and unrecognized Transnistria (1994). Due to the large amount of inflation in the Soviet bloc, each of the successor currencies had to be revalued at least once.

Details on the introduction of new currencies in the newly independent states are discussed below.

Post Soviet
First national currency (with new code)
replacing the "Soviet ruble" (SUR)
Conversion rate
from SUR
Date introduction new currency Date leaving
the "ruble zone"[15]
Future revaluation or currency replacement
date, New replaced currency
and rate[16]
 Armenia Armenian dram
200 SUR
= 1 AMD
22 November 1993 November 1993 -
 Azerbaijan Azerbaijani manat
10 SUR
= 1 AZM
15 August 1992 August 1993 1 January 2006:
Azerbaijani manat (AZN)
5 000 AZM = 1 AZN
 Belarus Belarusian ruble
10 SUR
= 1 BYB
25 May 1992 26 July 1993 2000:
Belarusian ruble
1 000 BYB = 1 BYR

Belarusian ruble (BYN)
10 000 BYR = 1 BYN
 Estonia Estonian kroon
10 SUR
= 1 EEK
20 June 1992 22 June 1992 1 January 2011:
Euro (EUR)
15.6466 EEK = 1 EUR
 Georgia Georgian kupon
= 1 GEK
8 April 1993 20 August 1993 20 October 1995:
Georgian lari (GEL)
1 000 000 GEK = 1 GEL
 Kazakhstan Kazakhstani tenge
500 SUR
= 1 KZT
15 November 1993 November 1993 -
 Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstani som
200 SUR
= 1 KGS
10 May 1993 15 May 1993 -
 Latvia Latvian rublis
= 1 LVR
7 May 1992 20 July 1992 5 March 1993:
Latvian lats (LVL)
200 LVR = 1 LVL

1 January 2014:
Euro (EUR)
0.702804 LVL = 1 EUR
 Lithuania Lithuanian talonas
10 SUR
= 1 LTT
1 May 1992 1 October 1992 26 June 1993:
Lithuanian litas (LTL)
100 LTT = 1 LTL

1 January 2015:
Euro (EUR)
3.4528 LTL = 1 EUR
 Moldova Moldovan cupon
= 1 MDC
10 June 1992 July 1993 29 November 1993:
Moldovan leu (MDL)
1000 MDC = 1 MDL
 Russia Russian ruble
= 1 RUR
14 July 1992 August 1993 1 January 1998:
Russian ruble (RUB)
1000 RUR = 1 RUB
 Tajikistan Tajikistani ruble
100 SUR
= 1 TJR
10 May 1995 January 1994 30 October 2000:
Tajikistani somoni (TJS)
1000 TJR = 1 TJS
 Turkmenistan Turkmenistan manat
500 SUR
= 1 TMM
1 November 1993 November 1993 1 January 2009:
Turkmenistan manat (TMT)
5000 TMM = 1 TMT
 Ukraine Kupono-karbovanets
= 1 UAK
12 January 1992 November 1992 2 September 1996:
Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH)
100 000 UAK = 1 UAH
 Uzbekistan Uzbek soʻm-kupon
= 1 UZC
15 November 1993 15 November 1993 1 July 1994:
Uzbekistani soʻm (UZS)
1000 UZC = 1 UZS

See also


  1. ^ "NSV Liidu valuutasüsteem ja esimesed ühisettevõtted" (in Estonian) Archived 2011-07-20 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ An Economic History of the U.S.S.R. by Alec Nove (ISBN 0-14-021403-8), pp. 283, 310.
  3. ^ Bornstein, Morris (1961). "The Reform and Revaluation of the Ruble". The American Economic Review. 51 (1): 117–123. JSTOR 1818912.
  4. ^ a b Online, WSI (18 August 2015). "Rahan arvottomuus - The Baltic Guide Online". Archived from the original on 15 March 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  5. ^ "Idänkaupan loppu - Suomen ja Neuvostoliiton välinen erityinen kauppasuhde ja Suomen kauppapolitiikan odotushorisontti sen purkautuessa 1988–1991". 7 May 2018. Archived from the original on 7 May 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  6. ^ Osband, Kent (7 May 2018). Pandora's Risk: Uncertainty at the Core of Finance. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231151726. Archived from the original on 15 March 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2018 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ Susiluoto, Ilmari. Vilpittömän ilon valtakunta. Gummerus, Jyväskylä 2007. ISBN 978-951-20-7496-9. Pages 174-177, 180-181.
  8. ^ p19
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Archive". Central Bank of Russia. Archived from the original on 2013-02-03. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
  15. ^ John Odling-Smee, Gonzalo Pastor. The IMF and the Ruble Area, 1991—1993 // IMF Working Paper, 2001 Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ ISO 4217

External links