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Found: A Billion Rubles Dumped at an Abandoned Mining Operation

After the fall of communism, the Russian government needed to get rid of a lot of Soviet cash.

They’d long heard the rumors—somewhere outside of the St. Petersburg, in an abandoned mine, the Russian government had buried piles of money. Recently, a group of historians and explorers of abandoned places decided to find out if it was true, the BBC reports.

They traveled about five hours, through forest and field, and across a river. Locals had told them about a site where the money might be found, but the same informants also warned that the site was contaminated with radiation. As they approached, the group pulled out their Geiger counter to check. The radiation turned out to be a rumor—but not the money.

Before long they came across piles of cash spread across the boggy ground. Many of the bundles were still tied together and had their original bank seals, according to Russian news reports.

The money was dumped after the fall of the Soviet Union, when the government wanted to get rid of old Soviet rubles, but burning it seemed like a bad idea. (They worried, for example, about the toxicity of the bills’ materials.) Before the collapse, the pile of money—said to be a billion rubles in all—would have been worth $33 million.

This is just one site of at least three where the government is said to have dumped cash.