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The E-Sylum:  Volume 3, Number 32, August 6, 2000, Article 13

AN IGNOMINIOUS END FOR RUBLES 

   A front-page article in the July 26, 2000 issue of The Wall 
   Street Journal reported on the disposition of obsolete 
   ruble notes in Russia.  "When Russia's financial markets 
   buckled in August 1998, and the ruble collapsed, Mr. 
   Nikiforov [of the Ulyanovsk Roofing Material Factory] 
   had a brainchild.  Already wrestling with severe shortages 
   of old cloth and wastepaper, his basic raw materials, 
   he proposed an unorthodox way to mop up Russia's 
   excess money supply. 

   We'd already tried wood chips and even straw, but to 
   no avail, " say Mr. Nikiforov.  "We found that bank notes 
   worked much better." A ton of rubles costs less than $15, 
   not even a third as much as scrap paper. 

   Not only do rubles help plug leaky roofs, he says they also 
   eventually could revolutionize personal hygiene.  He shows 
   off certificates from the health ministry and epidemiological 
   control department certifying that bank notes pose no 
   health hazard as toilet paper. 

   Toilet tissue made of rubles - known in the trade as MBS, 
   a Russian acronym for "Special Waste Paper" - would be 
   "a bit rough" and not particularly absorbent, he says, but 
   it would be cheap. 

   "Marx and Lenin predicted we wouldn't need gold and 
   would one day make toilets out of it," says Valery 
   Perfilov, director of a dusty complex of museums in 
   the center of town dedicated to Lenin.  "We don't have 
   golden toilets yet, but we have roofs covered with 
   money.  Who knows what might happen next?"" 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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