The Ruble

Russia's Central Bank has declared the necessity of a symbol for the ruble, one that would eventually be in league with the $ dollar and ^ euro signs on the world market. The future existence of the ruble symbol has been compared to that of a national anthem or flag, a declaration of autonomy and national pride. While the Russian economy is far from being independent of foreign ones, the symbol is representative of the possibilities of the new economy and triumph over the disastrous events of the late 90s.

Russia's ruble has long been shunned both at home and abroad. The dollar has been the preferred currency for savings accounts, apartment and car purchases alike. Numerous points of exchange sprang up in cities across the country, where rubles were traded by the fistfuls for dollars. Somber men clutching small bags stood outside of malls offering a cut throat rate, but not requiring to see a passport. The dollar was stability, practically guaranteed to retain its value. The ruble had been unpredictable and unreliable. But today, with the Russian economy flourishing and the dollar falling, the ruble is making its mark on the global and domestic market.

With full confidence in the growing stability of the economy and the value of the ruble, Russia is putting its money where its mouth is. More and more Russians are choosing to keep their savings in rubles, 10% more since January 2007. This is only a decade after the financial crisis which caused many to lose their life savings and more than 40% of the population to slide into poverty. The increase of the ruble's value has also made imported goods more affordable, making it possible to buy appliances and technology once considered unattainable luxuries.

The rise in Russia's economy and the increase in the value of the ruble are at least partially attributed to the world's increasing oil demands. Currently Russia is the second largest exporter of oil. As such, Russia's economic stability is dependant on oil prices; should they go down, they will affect the value of the national currency. But Russia has seen a significant increase of foreign investments in other sections of the Russian economy, demonstrating confidence in its success.

Similarly, the Central Bank and the Russian government are putting their faith in the ruble by asking for a symbol that will become recognizable around the world. Up until now, the ruble has only been indicated by an uninspired shortening of the Russian word. Much like the currency itself, the cluster of Cyrillic letters would not be recognized internationally. The significance of the symbol has made its design so much more important. It had to be easy to write, easy to recognize and original.
Attempts to create a symbol for the rubble were made since the early nineties. In 1999, Kommersant, Russian business daily newspaper and Russian art directors club organized "The Ruble Symbol" contest, but the winning design has not been adopted as an official symbol for the Russian currency.

After eight years of waiting and much scrutinizing, the most prominent Russian graphic design and typeface design companies, including Art Lebedev Group, Imadesign, Letterhead and Paratype called upon the Russian professional design community to adopt the emerging symbol - a capital Russian R -"P" with a dash through the letter's stem.

In the first three days more than two hundred companies from every corner of Russia have recognized the symbol and agreed to put it to work. The symbol has already been used in pricing merchandise in the real world as well as the virtual. The first website to use the new rubble symbol was an internet auto accessories shop in the city of Yekaterinburg in Urals. The symbol celebrated by Russian companies big and small is proof that both producer and consumer are eager to do business in the language of their own currency, at least for now.

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