Belarussian Wildlife, The Eurasian Wolf: 5 Rubles (Belarus, 1993)-Article

Updated: Mar 12

This early post-Soviet, Belarussian banknote is the 4th denomination of the First Ruble (1992). The First Ruble was introduced due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1991. The Belarussian Ruble replaced the previous Soviet Ruble, on 25 May 1992. These early banknotes are notable for featuring the nation's wildlife.

Currently (2021) these small banknotes are well suited for beginner collectors. As they can be purchased for relatively cheap, the exception being the 1 Ruble (European Hare) and 3 Ruble (Eurasian Beaver) denominations. All denominations of the 25 May 1992 issued notes featured Pahonia (the chaser), on their reverse side.


The observe depicts a pair of Eurasian Wolves, a species common throughout most of the former Soviet Union. The note's "Five Rubles" value is listed at the upper right, in Cyrillic text. Nearby we can see a spiral guilloché pattern radiating outward. If one looks closely they can notice the beginnings of 2 similar patterns near the lower right and center. In addition to the note's multi-tone underprint, these form a simple anti-forgery measure.

Toward the edge of the underprint we can see a cross, symbolically representing the Cross of Saint Euphrosyne. Below is a guilloché pattern with the text "Five Rubles", reinforcing the note's value. This pattern overlaps a border, which the wolves stand on.

This border extends to the right, in the watermark area. Above and below this border are 3 rows of micro-text, reading "Republic of Belarus" in sequence. The micro-text runs the full length of the note. Although can most easily be seen read from the watermark area.

Overall the watermark is simple, being a system of interlocking "S" patterns. Which run the accross the note beyond the designated watermark area. A fairly common practice for early post-Soviet banknotes.


The reverse depicts Pahonia (the chaser), who's featured on the Belarussian Coat of Arms. Pahonia stems from an Eastern Slavic tradition. In which in case of sudden attack, all armed and able men are expected to pursue the enemy. In 1329, this tradition was personified as an image of a charging knight.

Pahonia gained notoriety as the seal of Duke Aleksandr Mikhailovich of Pskov (1301-1339). Who lead the Tver Uprising of 1327, against the Mongol Golden Horde. Which despite being decisively defeated, with the assistance of Ivan I of Moscow (1325-1340 CE). Later inspired the Great Stand on the Ugra River (1480 CE), which finally defeated the Golden Horde.

Despite being a relatively simple banknote, it utilizes extensive guilloché details. Being the most cost-effective and visually appealing option. To prevent the notes from being counterfeited by criminal elements. The guilloché patterns are layered, moving outward from the Pahonia image. In addition to forming borders for the notes text.

The note's "Five Rubles" value is listed at the sides of the Pahonia. While the text below lists the note as a "Payment ticket of the National Bank of Belarus". The note's print date (1992) is listed to the far right. While the he fine text featured above the watermark area reads, "Forgery of banknotes of the National Bank of Belarus is prosecuted by law".

The Eurasian Wolf

The Eurasian Wolf is a sub-species of the Gray Wolf, native forest and steppes of Eurasia. Although historically common in Western Europe, until the medieval period due to mass hunting. Most current populations reside in nature reserves and the former Soviet Union. The species was highly regarded historically by ancient European cultures, with the exception of early Germanic people.

Notably populations from Scandinavia (Northern Europe) and the former Soviet Union are larger than Western European wolves. Mostly due to the greater abundance of available prey. Average Russia wolves measure 105–160 cm (41–63 in) in length and 80–85 cm (31–33 in) tall, at the shoulder. With an average weight of 32–50 kg (71–110 lb) and a maximum healthy weight of 69–80 kg (152–176 lb). The heaviest recorded wolf was a 86 kg (190 lb) individual, hunted near Kobeliaky, Ukrainian SSR.

Since the 1950s, conservation efforts have emerged to recover European wolf populations. By reintroducing breeding pairs, regions which wolves have not become extinct. In addition to signing legislation, which prohibiting the hunting of non-nuisance wolves. Allowing wolves to naturally expand from neighboring regions, with heavily forested and mountainous terrain.

These include Russian Karelia, which maintains a large wolf population. Karelia proximity to Finland has played a key role, despite the region's declining Moose population. Similarly Poland's forests have played a role, in restoring populations in eastern Germany, Lithuania, and Belarus. Breeding populations have been recorded in the Sudeten Mountains, along the Czech-Polish border.

Ultraviolet Gallery

Size Comparison

A Belarussian 5 Ruble with US Dollar for scale.
A Belarussian 5 Ruble with US Dollar for scale.

1992 First Belarusian Ruble Gallery

(Gallery contains all Series 1992 banknotes, "Belarussian Wildlife")


Additional Notes

  • This notes dimensions are 105 × 53 mm or 4.13 x 2.09 in, smaller than a standard US Dollar.

Photo Credits

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