Old 5-ruble note 1961-1991
|Over the past hundred years the value of the ruble has changed sharply. Under Soviet rule, the value of the currency could change overnight as a result of government edict as was the case in 1947 and 1961, when citizens awoke to the news that new rubles would replace old at a rate of 1 to 10, effective immediately.|
|In 1988, hundred-ruble notes were a rare sight. By the mid 1990s, they were worth a few pennies. Kopecks disappeared from circulation.|
The constant barrage of extra zeroes made prices hard to read. For example, in 1997, a TV went for 1 200 000 rubles. Finally, in 1996, the ruble began to stabilize, and in 1997, the Russian government unveiled a four-year-long switchover to new "deflated" currency.
Introduced in January 1998, the new bills looked like the old ones, but with three zeroes gone. Five-thousand ruble notes became five-ruble notes (currently about 85 cents). One-thousand ruble notes are being replaced by ruble coins. Notes of smaller denominations are being re-issued as kopeck coins.
What does it all mean for prices? To begin with, the TV set that cost 1.2 million rubles in 1997 costs 1200 rubles in 1998. A cab ride through the center of town went from 20,000 rubles to 20. And the cost of a bus ride drops to a ruble and fifty kopecks. But don't count on these prices remaining stable. At the end of the 20th century, the ruble has yet to attain the stability characteristic of Western currencies. Between summer 1998 and summer 1999 the ruble decreased in value from 15 cents to 4 cents. Many Russian websites give current ruble quotes.
For American students of Russian, the most visible consequence of the
redenomination of the ruble is grammatical more than economic. When Russians
regularly spoke of rubles in the thousands, they would drop the word тысяча
(thousand) and say:
|- Сколько стоит вино? Двадцать одну?
- Нет, двадцать две.
|(That's двадцать одну тысячу.)
(That's двадцать две тысячи, две because тысяча is feminine and after the number две genitive.)
|- Сколько стоит вино? Двадцать один?
- Нет, двадцать два.
|(That's двадцать один рубль).
(That's двадцать два рубля, два because рубль is masculine and after the number два genitive.)