Belarussian Wildlife #4, European Elk: 25 Rublei (Belarus, 1992)-Article

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

This early post-Soviet, Belarussian banknote is the 6th 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 European Elk (Moose), a species common throughout Scandinavia and parts of the former Soviet Union. The note's "Twenty 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 "Twenty Five Rubles", reinforcing the note's value. This pattern overlaps a border, which the Moose stands 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 across 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 "Twenty 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 European Elk

The European Elk (as known as Moose in North America) is the largest deer species in Eurasia. They are most numerous in the Scandinavia peninsula and Eastern Baltic. Although can be found in more moderate numbers in Belarus, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Ukraine. Although it's former range extended into Germany, France, and Switzerland.

The average adult European Elk male (known as bulls) weighs 320 to 475 kg (705 to 1,047 lb). While the much smaller females (known as cows) weigh between 275 to 375 kg (606 to 827 lb). The average shoulder height for adults ranges between 1.7 to 2.1 m (5 ft 7 in to 6 ft 11 in) high. With some degree of overlap between cows and bulls.

European Elk feed on pond grasses, young trees and shrubs. In order to maintain their body weight, the average adult moose needs to consume 40.9 MJ (9,770 kcal) per day. This diet is divided into food rich in energy and those rich in sodium (salt).

Energy is derived from eating flowers and fresh shoots, such those from willow and birch. While half of their diet is water plants, supplying them with essential salts. To better browse under water plant, European Elk have a special adaptation. They are able to seal shut their nostrils, to avoid accidently breathing in water.

European Elk also require cover from would be predators and to regulate their body temperature. This is due to their cold-adapted features, which includes thick skin and a dense heat retaining coat. This coat features 2 layers. A soft woolly undercoat and a layer of tough air-filled guard hairs. Which insulates, while helping in swimming.

These air-filled guard hairs are an extremely useful adaptation. As elks will often wade and swim in lakes and ponds. In order to avoid over-heating in the summer. As heat-stress negatively effects amount of body fat elks produce. This extra body fat is crucial to surviving the winter. In addition to providing proper calving in cows. As low body weight can lead to a delayed mating season.

European Elk mating season spans from September to October. During mating season the male bulls will enter a period known as rut. When in rut the bulls will not eat for 2 weeks, instead constantly searching for a mate. There is a period of fasting before and after rut, neurophysiological changes are at play.

During the mating season both bulls and cows will call to each other. The bull call features heavy grunting sounds, traveling about 500 meters. While the cow call features wail-like sounds, that travel further. The bulls will fight with their antlers to win over nearby mates. Although occasionally younger bulls will retreat from more experienced bulls.

The calves are born after 8 months, featuring reddish-brown fur. Usually only one calf is born, occasionally twins are born. This is due mild winters, abundant food, and relative lack of predators. The rate of twin birth are as high as 30% to 40%, when these conditions are met. Which has help in recovery efforts in Europe. The average life span of a European Elk is 15-25 years.

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.

  • Elks/Moose are divided into 8 living subspecies, 4 Eurasian (Elks) and 4 North American (Moose) respectively.

  • Eurasian Elks include the European, Mid-Siberian, Manchurian, and East Siberian subspecies.

  • North American Moose include the Eastern, Western, Alaskan and Yellowstone subspecies.

  • Until the early 20th century the extinct Caucasian Elk represented a 9th species.

  • This note depicts the European Elk, representing western edge of Eurasian subspecies.

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