Belarussian Wildlife #1, Eurasian Red Squirrel: 50 Kapeek (Belarus, 1992)-Article

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

This early post-Soviet, Belarussian banknote is the 1st 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 Eurasian Red Squirrel, a species note for their large ear-tufts. The note's "Fifty Kapeek" 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 "50 Kapeek", reinforcing the note's value. This pattern overlaps a border, which the squirrel sits 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 "50 Kapeek" 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 Red Squirrel

The Eurasian Red Squirrel is a common, yet iconic sight for the boreal and temperate forest of Europe and Siberia. The species is noted for their large ear-tufts, giving them the appearance of usually large ears. A fitting image for this wilily and shy species.

Both male and female red squirrels are roughly the same size. With an average body length of 19 to 23 cm (7.5 -9 in),a tail length of 15 to 20 cm (6-8 in)and a weight of 400-800 g (14 oz-1 lb 12 oz). Making them smaller than their rivals, the invasive Eastern Gray Squirrel. Which they compete for food sources.

Wild Red Squirrels can live up to 7 years, with 3 years being more common. Food availability during winter, often determining their lifespan. As squirrels often spend between 60-80% of their active time spent foraging and feeding. In captivity Red Squirrels can live up to 10 years.

Adult squirrels mate between February-March and June-July. The average litter incudes 3 young, which are born after 38 days. After 21 days the young open their eyes and are covered in red fur. By roughly 40 days the young have full teeth. Although are not fully weened until 8-10 weeks, despite being able to eat solid food.

After weening the young will begin venturing to collect food on their own. Female squirrels will usually have their own litters after their second year. Although food scarcity may delay mating, as mating age is determined by minimum body weight. Which is an issue in areas with gray squirrel populations.

To help counter declining Red Squirrel populations, ecological initiatives have been introduced. Particularly to safeguard population in the British Isles, which have particularly been affected by the introduction of gray squirrels.

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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