Rationing in the Soviet Union
was introduced several times, in periods of economical hardships.
In 1929, the elimination of limited market economy
The New Economic Policy was an economic policy proposed by Vladimir Lenin, who called it state capitalism. Allowing some private ventures, the NEP allowed small animal businesses or smoke shops, for instance, to reopen for private profit while the state continued to control banks, foreign trade,...
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
The Politburo , known as the Presidium from 1952 to 1966, functioned as the central policymaking and governing body of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.-Duties and responsibilities:The...
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. 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. Foreign specialists employed in Russia were supplied through a separately established organization Insnab
Insnab was a Soviet state organization responsible for the provision of foreign specialists and workers employed in the Soviet industry with food and commodities. It was established in 1932 with the aim to reduce the impact of food shortages on foreign communities...
The last, 12th Five-Year Plan that fell within the perestroika
Perestroika was a political movement within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during 1980s, widely associated with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev...
period ended with uncontrolled economical degradation, resulted in part in various ways of rationing in all Union republics.
Rationing of money
Perestroika produced a unique type of rationing: rationing of money
. In 1990 in Byelorussian SSR
The Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic was one of fifteen constituent republics of the Soviet Union. It was one of the four original founding members of the Soviet Union in 1922, together with the Ukrainian SSR, the Transcaucasian SFSR and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic...
introduced a "Consumer's Card", which was a paper sheet sectioned into tear-off coupon
In marketing, a coupon is a ticket or document that can be exchanged for a financial discount or rebate when purchasing a product. Customarily, coupons are issued by manufacturers of consumer packaged goods or by retailers, to be used in retail stores as a part of sales promotions...
s 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 counterfeit
To counterfeit means to illegally imitate something. Counterfeit products are often produced with the intent to take advantage of the superior value of the imitated product...
ed on modern color copiers. (Copiers were scarce in the Soviet Union and under strict control of KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...
, which to an extent limited, but not excluded, 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.