Money makes the world go around!

The rouble is the basic unit of Russian currency, like the euro or pound sterling. It consists of 100 copecks, and has done since 1704, making it the world’s first decimalised currency. Here are a few more facts and figures…

  • The Russian rouble is the currency of the Russian Federation, the two partially recognised republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the two unrecognised republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.
  • The rouble was the currency of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union (as the Soviet rouble). Today, apart from Russia, Belarus and Transnistria use currencies with the same name.


  • The term ‘rouble’ emerged in 13th-century Novgorod. It derives from the verb ‘rubit’ (to cut), since the original roubles were silver bars notched at intervals to make them easier to cut.
  • The rouble was initially a measure of both value and weight, but not a minted currency.
  • Under the monetary reform of 1534, the rouble was defined as equal to 100 copecks. Other subdivisions of the rouble were the altyn (3 copecks), the grivennik (10 copecks), the polupoltina (25 copecks), and the poltina (50 copecks).
  • A copper rouble circulated during Alexei Mikhailovich's currency reform (1654–1663), the first instance of minted rouble coins.
  • In 1704, the government began minting silver roubles, defined initially as equal to 28 grams of silver but declining steadily to 18 grams by the 1760s.
  • Gold coins were minted in 1756 and 1779, copper roubles in 1770 and 1771.
  • From 1769 to 1849, irredeemable paper promissory notes called assignatsii circulated alongside the metal currency.
  • In 1885 and 1886, the silver rouble, linked to the French franc, was reinstated as the official currency.
  • Sergei Witte's reforms in 1897 introduced a gold rouble, and Russia remained on the gold standard until 1914. Fully convertible paper currency circulated at the same time.
  • A worthless paper rouble (kerenka) was used at the close of World War I.
  • The first Soviet rouble – a paper currency – was issued in 1919, and the first Soviet silver rouble appeared in 1921. Rouble banknotes were introduced in 1934.
  • A 1937 reform set the value of the rouble in relation to the US dollar, a practice that ended in 1950 with the adoption of a gold standard. Additional monetary reforms were implemented in 1947, 1961 and 1997.
  • In 1992 the Soviet rouble was replaced with the Russian rouble.
  • In 1998, following the financial crisis, the Russian rouble was redenominated at an exchange rate of 1 new rouble = 1000 old roubles.
  • Today, economic sanctions imposed against Russia have had a damaging effect on the Russian currency, meaning the rouble is weak against foreign currencies – bad for the Russian economy, but good for tourists visiting the country, making goods and services much cheaper than they would have been otherwise. To take advantage of the weak rouble, book your trip to Russia today!