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Russians tend to see the national flag as part of their lives

August 22, 2014, 16:32 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© ITAR-TASS/Anton Novoderzhkin

MOSCOW, August 22. /ITAR-TASS/. No matter how many bills on patriotic education of Russian nationals State Duma deputies would draft, love for the country and respect for its national flag cannot be imposed from above. These notions stem from the family, from developments in the life of a modern person. And National Flag Day in the Russian Federation, marked this Friday, is an occasion for rank-and-file citizens to look back into their personal past linked with the official symbol of the country.

My father, a WWII veteran, reached Berlin in May 1945. On Victory Day holidays, marked in Russia on May 9, he hoisted a red flag at the entrance to his private house in a provincial southern town - the flag of the Soviet Union which Red Army soldiers carried while attacking the enemy. The house and the street means the whole world when one is a child. And it seemed that the flag hoisted by father was starting this country's sacred holiday.

When my father died, I wanted to fix a new national flag, the Russian tricolor, on the doorway to the country house in the Moscow region on Victory Day. But vendors at stationary and book shops were shrugging shoulders: We don’t have them on sale. Later the situation improved, and now Russian flags of different sizes are sold in shops.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine said he had bought an American flag at the Pearl Harbor memorial complex, sometime later receiving an official notification that the money from his purchase would be used to eternalize the memory of the dead. I wish State Duma deputies would discuss such a patriotic initiative!

Unlike Americans, who have their Stars and Stripes printed on jeans pockets and beach towels, Russian citizens are more discreet in their attitude to the national flag - such liberties are not customary here. And a criminal penalty is envisaged for insulting the colors.

The early 2000s saw a campaign when law enforcement officers were cautioning owners of enterprises and private houses about the inadmissibility of hoisting the flag on buildings that were not housing government agencies. However, the Law on the National Flag of the Russian Federation specifies that the tricolor can be hoisted everywhere on national holidays.

Despite these matters, in recent years Russian nationals have been eagerly waving tricolor flags to honor the victory of Russian athletes at international competitions, with no official instructions needed. As for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, apart from the victory of the Russian national team, the games also saw a kind of triumph of white-blue-red colours. The national flag has become even more popular in the wake of patriotism following Crimea’s unification with Russia.

Peter the Great is seen as "father" of the Russian tricolor. On January 31, 1705, he issued a decree under which “any merchant ship” would have to hoist a white-blue-red flag, sketching himself the design and deciding on the sequence of horizontal strips.

Contemporary history of the tricolor dates back to August 22, 1991, when members of the State Committee of the State of Emergency dismissed Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. A wave of mass popular protests in Moscow and other cities of the country brought to power Russian President Boris Yeltsin. The tricolor flag was hoisted over the Government Building of the Russian Federation on August 22, 1991, and was later inscribed into law as the national flag.

Representatives of the older generation, especially WWII veterans, feel nostalgic about the red flag as well as about the Soviet Union, which ceased to exist in 1991. Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov keeps taking his supporters to meetings under Soviet flags with the hammer and sickle, symbol of the power of workers and peasants.

But wedding convoys across the country are carrying tricolors, not red flags, which means young people link their personal lives and their future with a new Russia.


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