New Russian notes bear hammer and sickle symbol of former Soviet Union

Paper Money News column from the June 15, 2015, issue of Coin World
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 05/30/15
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Considering that it has been nearly a quarter century since the collapse of the Soviet Union, surprise would be an expected reaction to finding that notes bearing its ubiquitous hammer and sickle were released on April 28, 2015. In a press release on that date, the Trans-Dniester Republican Bank introduced 1- and 10-ruble bank notes commemorating the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II. 

These commemorative notes are similar to the regular issues but with an added printing at lower right of the face with the Russian text noting “70 Years of Great Victory” and below that a Ribbon of Saint George, with hammer and sickle at its center. Underneath are the dates “1945-2015.” The print run of each denomination is 7,070 pieces with 2,000 pieces of each set aside for inclusion in a special booklet for sale to collectors.

The St. George Ribbon was created as a Russian military order under Catherine the Great, was included among the honors of the Soviets, was reinstated as an order in 1992 and today is associated with Russian nationalism and separatist sentiment. 

The portrait on the face of the notes is of Alexander Suvorov, a Russian national hero and the last generalissimo of the Russian Empire. 

The choice of design becomes less surprising when considering its source. Trans-Dniester, also known as Transnistria or the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, still has the hammer and sickle on its flag and is unapologetically pro-Russian. It is a breakaway state in a narrow enclave between the Dniester River and Moldova’s eastern border with Ukraine. It is part of Moldova but did not want to leave the Soviet Union when it broke up. Since 2005 Moldova has considered it by law an autonomous territorial unit with special legal status. 

It is not recognized by any member of the United Nations, not even Russia.

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