The Russian central bank has withdrawn a new 1,000 ruble note from circulation after an Orthodox priest raised concerns over the design of the bill, which had omitted a cross on the dome of a church. The dome in question is located in the central city of Kazan and does not have a cross on it because it is part of a museum and is no longer being used as a church.
Orthodox priest Pavel Ostrovsky, who has a significant social media following, complained about the absence of the religious symbol and criticized the designers of the bill. Despite not citing Ostrovsky’s complaint directly, the central bank announced the withdrawal of the note and stated that it had “decided to suspend the issue of the modified banknote” as it had not reached widespread circulation.
The 1,000 ruble bill, which was unveiled alongside a new 5,000 ruble banknote, was dedicated to the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod and the Volga Federal District. The front side of the note featured iconic landmarks from Nizhny Novgorod, while the back of the note showcased a museum in the city of Ufa, as well as two tourist attractions in the Republic of Tatarstan – Suyumbike Tower and the Museum of the History of Tatar Statehood.
It was the Museum of the History of Tatar Statehood, located in a former Orthodox Church compound without a cross, that caught the attention of Ostrovsky. He claimed on his Telegram channel that the bill was either the result of “the stupidity of the designers” or a deliberate provocation. He argued that most people who would use the note do not know the history of the Kazan Kremlin where the museum is located, so the appearance of the building on the bill should not matter.
The Russian Orthodox Church welcomed the central bank’s decision, describing it as “very correct.” Church spokesperson Vladimir Legoyda emphasized that the Orthodox cross “personifies the religious and cultural identity of the majority of our citizens and is a natural part of the state symbols of our country.”
The withdrawal of the 1,000 ruble note brings attention to the significance of religious symbols in Russia and their representation in state symbols. The Orthodox cross holds deep meaning for many Russians and is seen as an important symbol of their religious and cultural identity. This incident reminds the public and policymakers of the need to respect and reflect these values in official designs and representations.
It is important for financial institutions and designers to be mindful of cultural and religious sensitivities when creating currency. By acknowledging and addressing concerns raised by religious figures or the general public, institutions can ensure that their designs resonate with the diverse population they serve. This incident serves as a reminder that symbols hold great significance and can impact how individuals perceive and connect with official representations.