20 years ago, Russia experienced one of the most devastating crises in its recent history — on 17 August 1998 the government defaulted. 

Today I watched an interesting documentary in Russian - Черный август. Дефолт, documentary tells about events and causes which led to the default.

What really caught my attention was the GKO, or  Государственное Краткосрочное Обязательство

GKO are short-term zero-coupon government bonds issued by the Russian Finance Ministry and trade on the Moscow Inter Bank Currency Exchange (MICEX), as well as on five other currency exchanges connected with the MICEX and located in large regional cities. The last GKO auction was held in February 2004

The initials became synonymous with the 1998 Russian financial crisis when the state defaulted on its "GKO obligations" (bonds). The GKO crisis, the most significant financial crisis in post-Soviet Russia, caused turmoil amongst both foreign and domestic investors and creditors. The crisis led to the abrupt devaluation of the Russian ruble in several steps in August and September 1998. (In fact, the ruble first fell about four times, then after some oscillations stopped at that level.) The crisis severely undermined confidence in the ruble's stability, although such dramatic drops did not happen again until 2014.

After 1998 a new series of state bonds were issued. On 1 November 2006, the volume of the GKO-OFZ market reached 850.7 billion rubles at face value, having exceeded by 17.9% the volume reached at the beginning of the year. The market volume is growing as a result of the implementation of the Russian Finance Ministry's policy of substituting the external debt for the internal debt and developing a liquid internal government-securities market, which must give market participants effective instruments to manage liquidity and form benchmarks for risk-free ruble interest-rates for all economic entities.

Watch it on Youtube: Черный август. Дефолт.