Rationing in the Soviet Union

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Rationing in the Soviet Union was introduced several times, during periods of economical hardships.


In 1929, the elimination of limited market economy that existed in the USSR between 1921 and 1929 resulted in food shortages and spontaneous introduction of food rationing in most Soviet industrial centres. In 1931, Politburo introduced a unified rationing system for foodstuffs and basic commodities and norms of rationing applied throughout the entire USSR.

Rationing was applied only to people employed in the state-owned industries and to their family members.[citation needed] Such social categories as people without political rights known as lishentsy were deprived of rations. The rationing system was divided into four rates that differed in the size of rations, with lower rates unable to get such basic products as meat and fish. The rationing existed up to 1935.[1] Foreign specialists employed in Russia were supplied through a separately established organization Insnab.


The last, 12th Five-Year Plan that fell within the perestroika period ended with uncontrolled economical degradation, resulted in part in various ways of rationing in all Union republics.

Rationing of money[edit]

Perestroika produced a unique type of rationing: rationing of money. In 1990 in Byelorussia introduced a "Consumer's Card", which was a paper sheet sectioned into tear-off coupons with various designated monetary values: 20, 75, 100, 200, and 300 rubles. These coupons were required in addition to real money when purchasing certain categories of consumer goods. The coupons had next to none protection and could be easily counterfeited on modern colour copiers. (Copiers were scarce in the Soviet Union and under strict control of KGB, which to an extent limited, but did not eliminate, forging). The coupons were distributed at workplaces together with salary and had to bear the accountant's department stamp and signatures. This was an attempt to protect from profiteering, especially from profiteering by resales abroad.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Elena Osokina, Za fasadom "stalinskogo izobiliia". Raspredeleniie i rynok v snabzhenii naseleniia v gody industrializatsii (Moscow, 1998).
  2. ^ Bayura A.N., Paper Money Circulation in the Territory of Belarus in 18th-20th Centuries (Баюра А.Н., Бумажно-денежное обращение на территории Беларуси в XVIII - XX веках,) Brest, Brest State Technical University, 2003, ISBN 978-985-6584-69-8 (in Russian)