Krasnodar, 4 October – Yug Times. Contrary to a well-known saying, money do smell – but only if there is a lot, plenty of it. It has a specific smell that cannot be compared to anything else. It smells as money and – probably as power – should smell.
We made sure of that when being invited to visit the Cash Department of the Southern branch of the Bank of Russia. Every day, cash-in-transit vans carry cash there from more than 70 commercial banks operating in the region.
Tons of roubles we left in shops, amusement centres, air ticket offices and in lots of other places, neatly packed into so-called ‘cassettes’ arrive to the reception point. Every cassette consists of 10,000 notes. Twenty cassettes make up a metre-high and 80-cm wide and long container. Maybe it’s not that much – if not bearing in mind that they contain a billion roubles in five-thousand bills. In fact, it is a huge sum, a yearly budget of such a city as, say, Kropotkin. Not all money that has arrived will return to circulation.
The old bills will end their lives in the special machine that looks like a shredder. It cuts them into thin strips and then turns them into pressed briquettes. Each briquette is about 200 bills – or, rather, whatever is left of them. They pass along two wide tubes and fall into a huge tray. Today it was full of thousand-rouble bills – but we managed to guess that only by the gray-green colour of these small but thick rolls. They were warm, and, getting colder, they were exuding their unrepeatable flavour. They smelled like money - a miserable piece of paper that makes the whole world rotate around it.