Central Bank removes labor camp image from 500 ruble note


New-look 5,000 and 500 ruble notes, which started rolling of the printing press on Tuesday, correct an earlier historical blunder as well as reinforce protection against forgeries.

One of the most highly circulated notes in Russia, the 500 ruble note has on its back a view of Solovetsky Monastery, a highly revered place in Russian orthodoxy.

However, closer inspection of the earlier version reveals that the image shows the monastery buildings at a time when they served as the biggest labor camp for political prisoners in the 1920s USSR.


Ruined monastery

Apparently the banknote’s artist used a photo of the buildings from 1960s, as the monastery is depicted minus domes on its churches, which were removed before it was used as the notorious SLON labor camp.

The bell-tower on the old banknote has a cross on top. However, the cross was taken off in 1922, and by the time it was restored in 1992, the tower had been completely changed in appearance. The tower depicted on the old note would have had a five-point star on top, but the note’s designer must have decided to simply swap it with a cross.

The new note corrects these mistakes and now shows the church with its traditional onion domes.


Better protection for new notes

The main reason for changing the 500 and 5,000 ruble notes, however, was to make them more difficult to forge, RIA Novosti reported.

The upgrade of 1,000 ruble note in August 2010 was largely successful, as the number of forgeries has since decreased.

The modified 5,000 note will have several new protective features, such as a holographic stripe across the Khabarovsk coat of arms.

A protective thread will have a repeated “5,000” depicted, and the numbers will move when the note is tilted.

The new 500 rubles will also have “500” repeatedly written on its protective thread. On the front side of the note, every digit in the 500 will also be of a different color, and will change color when moved.

The new notes will be in circulation together with the old variety for some three to four years, by which time they will have been fully replaced.


Problems with cash points

The previous revamp of the 1,000 ruble note saw some initial teething troubles. Some automatic teller machines and mobile phone payment points refused to accept the new notes.

This time round, the Central Bank has held seminars with bankers on how to adjust cash points to accept the new notes.

“We have not found any problems [with the technology]. The problem is in willingness or unwillingness to work [with the new notes],” Central Bank deputy head Georgy Luntovsky told RIA Novosti.




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