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Fifth object:

Pac-Man Penny

Thieves Coin

Contemporary mythology:
Myths about economy
Monumental works:
Sculptural decoration of the entrance to the café ‘Monetnyi Dvor’ [Mint] in Minsk

The instability of Belarusian currency is a subject of many jokes and myths. After the collapse of the USSR, Belarus introduced its own currency with images of forest animals and the Belarusians started calling the local money ‘bunnies’, since the most popular was the bill depicting a hare.

The country was shaken by a number of large-scale economic crises, the Belarusian Ruble went through several denominations. After yet another denomination in 2016, six zeros disappeared from our banknotes and coins were put back into use.

Belarusians do not trust the government; they buy up currency, store money at home and are painfully aware of constantly rising prices.

The main myth in this context is the one about Belarus as a social state - the myth of free healthcare and education, social housing, and state successes in tackling various types of discrimination. In reality, there are more paying students in Belarusian universities than the ones on a scholarship, while teachers, students, and their parents have no possibility to influence what is taught and how these universities are run. The state does not have enough funds to modernize the healthcare system. It has cut the benefits for pensioners and is trying to capitalise on those without permanent employment (the so-called ‘spongers’, seen by the state as including, for example, the housewives).

The entrance to the café ‘Monetnyi Dvor’ [Mint], which belongs to the Office of Presidential Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, is decorated with monumental copies of Belarusian coins. The project uses an element of the aforementioned sculptural composition with the image of a five-kopek coin, located on the left edge of its granite fencing. It is reminiscent of Pac-Man, the title character of the famous computer game from the 1980s. The coin with its gaping maw is an ample image of Belarusian fears associated with the economic situation in the country.
1. The so-called ‘thieves' coin’ with a sharpened edge for cutting though pockets and bags

2. Monument to Belarusian coins, placed at the entrance to the cafe ‘Monetnyi Dvor’ [Mint] in Minsk

© photo: Stanislav Sharshukov

3. Belarusian Ruble depicting animals, 1992

4. 1998 marks the date of issue of the largest bill in Belarus - 5,000,000 Belarusian rubles. It is the best example of the rate of inflation

5. The title character of the computer game Pac-Man

6. Knives made from coins

© photo: YouTube channel Alexander Polulyakh