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Belarussian Wildlife #5, Eurasian Brown Bear: 50 Rublei (Belarus, 1992)-Article

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

This early post-Soviet, Belarussian banknote is the 7th 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 Brown Bear, which found in Northern Europe and much of the former Soviet Union. The note's "Fifty 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 "Fifty Rubles", reinforcing the note's value. This pattern overlaps a border, which the bear rests 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 "Fifty 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 Brown Bear

The Eurasian Brown Bear is a subspecies of Brown Bear, found through much of Eurasia. Although most common Northern Europe and much of the former Soviet Union. Particularly in Russia, east of the Ural Mountains into Siberia. Giving them a historical association with Russian military and political power. They are broadly related to the famous Grizzly Bears of North America.

The average adult male Eurasian Brown Bear weighs between 250 and 300 kilograms (550 and 660 lb). While the smaller females typically range between 150 and 250 kg (330 and 550 lb). Although particularly large adult males have documented with a maximum weight of 481 kg (1,058 lb). With a body length of nearly 2.5 m (8.2 ft).

Eurasian Brown Bear have dense fur which ranges from yellowish-brown, reddish-yellowish, to nearly black. Although some cases of albinism (white fur) have been documented. Fur length varies from summer and winter coats. Summer coats are shorter and less dense, than winter coats. Some bears occasionally have mane-like fur around their heads and backs, even when in summer coat.

Notably modern bears are less carnivorous (meat-eating) than their ancient ancestors. In antiquity, the Eurasian Brown Bear's diet was made of 80% meat. Making them valued adversaries in gladiatorial matches. To such an extent it contributed to their extinction in some regions of Europe. Today's bears have a diet made of between 10-15% meat.

This mostly herbaceous diet is believed to be due to scarcity of large prey. Brown Bears use their claws to dig up roots and flower blubs year-round. Although will particularly rely on this food source during winter, when food is scarce. From spring to late autumn, they will feed on berries, flowers, acorns, mosses, and mushrooms. These energy-rich foods are particularly important during winter hibernation.

During hot summer days, Brown Bears will wade and lounge in ponds and lakes. When cooling down they will browse for nearby shoots and sedges (grass-like plants). Although consuming to much of the latter is usually avoided. As bears have difficulty digesting tougher plants, such as mature grasses. Often leading to them taking naps and rests, to conserve energy.

Eurasian Brown Bear mating season usually spans from mid-May to early July. Although shifts later, the further north the bear populations is living. The cubs are born after 180-266 days, with birth often delayed due to hibernation. The average litter ranges from 1-3 cubs, although liters of 4-6 have been occasionally documented.

The cubs are born toothless and hairless, weigh between 350 to 510 g (0.77 to 1.12 lb). The cubs live entirly on their mother's milk. The cubs will not leave the den, until they have reached a larger size. When the cubs reach a weigh 7 to 9 kg (15 to 20 lb), they began following their mother over open ground.

At this point they will begin foraging at eating solid food. Learning which foods are most nutritional by observing their mother. Cubs remain with their mother for roughly 2.3 years, after which they become independent. Although will not become fully mature, until a number of years.

Female bears become fully mature at 5.2–5.5 years on average. While male bears usually become fully mature a year later. Thus repeating the process and ensuring the survival of the species.

1992 First Belarusian Ruble Gallery

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


Additional Notes

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

  • The Ancient Romans preferred bears from Caledonia (Scotland) and Dalmatia (West Balkans).

  • Wild Eurasian Brown Bear have a documented lifespan of 20 to 30 years.

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