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By: inoljt,

Russia has recently had a number of protests against President  Vladimir Putin. The protests constitute a challenge of urban Russians  against Putin’s rule.

If you’ve ever seen pictures of these protests, one interesting thing  stands out. This is the fact that the protestors don’t wave Russia’s  national flag. Instead, they always wave different flags:

What are these flags? What do they represent? I’ve done a bit of digging to get at these answers.

More below.


One common flag in the protests is this one:


Obviously, this flag is not the national flag that Russia uses. It  looks a bit darker – dare I say more threatening – than the white, red,  and blue-striped official Russian flag.

Apparently this flag was one of the two flagsthat represented the Russian Empire before the revolution (the other is the current official flag). It seems to have been much less popular than the other flag.

Here’s another picture with these flags:


In the center there’s a standard of a bird with two heads. This type  of standard also often appears in these protests. It seems to be a  version of this flag:


This was the imperial standard during the Russian Empire.

These types of flags are often used by Russian nationalists. They  seem to be a symbol of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, a Russian  nationalist party (which some describe as ultranationalist).

For a person without deep knowledge of Russia, it’s somewhat  concerning to see these flags of the Tsar. It seems to imply that the  Russian Empire and the Tsar were good, or imply a type of nostalgia for  the Tsar.


There’s another type of flag that’s very prevalent in these protests against Putin. See if you can recognize it:


The good old flag of the Soviet Union.

Interestingly, there are a lot of variants of communist flags. For  instance, this picture there are several red flags with a red star  outlined in white and two Russian phrases stamped on top of the red  star. This “red star” flag seems to be very popular and has been waved  in a lot of protests. Puzzlingly, this doesn’t match the standard of Russia’s official communist party. (EDIT: This is the flag of the Left Front, a group of leftist political organizations including and perhaps dominated by the communists).

Here’s another variant of the pro-communist flags waved in these protests.


In this picture there are a lot of blue and white flags with a red  star and sickle-and-hammer. Again, I can’t find where this flag comes  from (although it’s certainly obvious what it represents).

(EDIT: A reader informs me that this is the Soviet naval ensign.)

Communism seems to be quite popular amongst Putin’s opposition.


There’s a final type of flag in these protests. They’re the orange flags in the two pictures above.

Here’s another photo with these orange flags:


These flags seem to represent liberals in the protest movement. The orange flag is a symbol of Solidarnost, a group of liberal Russian organizations.

In the picture there are also a number of red-and-white flags with a  red-and-white sun. I have absolutely no idea what these flags would  represent. (EDIT: This is the flag of the Russian People's Democratic Union, a small liberal party).


It’s very interesting how Putin’s opposition has very little passion  for Russia’s national flag. Instead, they wave their own flags – flags  representing communism, liberalism, and nationalism. This seems to be a  sign that the Russian flag as a national symbol is still relatively  weak. Of course, Russia isn’t the only country where this occurs.

It’s also pretty concerning when one sees just what flags Putin’s  opposition likes to wave. There are a lot of flags of the Tsar and the  USSR in the protests. Not quite what most people in the West are hoping  for.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    by Inoljt on Sat Jun 23, 2012 at 08:39:59 PM PDT

  •  A couple of notes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The group under the Soviet naval ensign is markedly younger than we're used to seeing the Communist contingents in Russian protests.

    Notable in their apparent absence from this demonstration, the National Bolsheviks, or Nazbols, who have a rather frighteningly distinctive banner.

    The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges. ~ Anatole France

    by ActivistGuy on Sat Jun 23, 2012 at 10:20:43 PM PDT

  •  It was actually one of the more unusual aspects (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kalmoth, Inoljt

    of these protests, that you'd see ideologically incompatible groups marching alongside each other.   The photos above are a little more segregated - you can see the banners shouting "All Power to the Soviets!" among the red flags, and "Forward! Without Putin" all over Solidarity.  

    By the way, the red-white sun alongside Solidarity's orange flags is the flag of the Russian People's Democratic Union party, a splinter of the (now defunct) Democratic Party of Russia.

    If you're interested I have a couple of diaries on the protests (here and here), including translations of some of the more common signs.  

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Sat Jun 23, 2012 at 11:05:56 PM PDT

  •  there's a reason for your taiwan example (0+ / 0-)

    the republic of china flag, which taiwan currently uses, is the nationalist party flag (a white sun on a field of blue) in the top left hand corner of a red field. this is an artifact of the RoC's leninist single-party dictatorship, where state and party were one, and dissent was not allowed.

    the opposition democracy party thus opposes that flag since taiwan is now a multiparty democracy (albeit incompletely reformed from the martial law system), and so feel that putting one party opf many on the national flag is inappropriate.

  •  an interesting american analogue to this (0+ / 0-)

    would be the prominent use of the confederate battle flag and the "don't tread on me" rattlesnake on a yellow field flag in right wing protests.

    there is notably no similar sort of alternate flag in left protests, except perhaps for the rather obscure use of the cascadia flag in the pac NW.

  •  It doesn't matter what most (0+ / 0-)

    people in the west are hoping for, it isn't our colony and we don't get to tell them what to do.

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