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Russia’s ‘Independence Day’: How June 12 became a national holiday

Key facts about Russia's national holiday celebrated on June 12

MOSCOW, June 11. /TASS/. Russia Day is a national holiday in the Russian Federation celebrated annually on June 12. In accordance with the Russian Labor Code, it is an official public holiday.


Declaration of State Sovereignty

On June 12, 1990, the 1st Congress of People's Deputies of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR, part of the Soviet Union) adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the RSFSR. The document declared the primacy of the Constitution and the laws of the Russian republic over the Soviet Union’s legislation, establishing equal rights for all citizens, political parties and non-governmental organizations, the principle of separation of powers into three branches, namely the legislative, executive and judicial and the necessity to substantially expand the rights of the regions. The document also stated that the Declaration is the basis to frame a new constitution. In all, 907 deputies voted to adopt the document, 13 voted against it, while 9 abstained. Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet Boris Yeltsin signed the Declaration.

Holiday established

On June 11, 1992, the Supreme Soviet of Russia published a decree designating June 12 as a public holiday. On September 25, 1992, the corresponding amendments were introduced into the Russian Labor Code.

Holiday’s history in Russia

On Russia Day, the country traditionally holds holiday concerts, mass open air celebrations and sports events.

On June 12, 1995, the holiday was celebrated for the first time. The first ceremony of awarding the State Prizes (introduced in 1992-1993) in science and technology, literature and the arts was held in the Kremlin on that day. In later years, the State Prize awarding ceremonies on June 12 became a tradition. The holiday also received the unofficial title of "Independence Day". This wording has never been used in the official documents, but can be seen in the media, appears on placards and banners.

In 1998, then Russian President Boris Yeltsin proposed calling this day "Day of Adoption of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of RSFSR" - Russia Day - in his address to the nation broadcasted by the main TV channels. However, the holiday was officially renamed only on February 1, 2002, when the new Labor Code came into force with all the official public holidays set out.

Since 2001, Russia Day has been celebrated with fireworks in Moscow and in other cities around the country.