Flag fail: Nationalists’ plan to adopt imperial standard for Russia sinks

Participants of the Russian March in Moscow (RIA Novosti/Ramil Sitdikov)

Participants of the Russian March in Moscow (RIA Novosti/Ramil Sitdikov)

The State Duma Committee for Constitutional Law has rejected a suggestion to change the existing white, blue and red flag of the Russian Federation to the black, yellow and white tricolor used in the Russian Empire of the late 19th century.

The bill was rejected on Wednesday almost without discussion,
TASS reported.

The original motion was drafted in July last year by MP Mikhail
Degtyaryov of the populist nationalist party LDPR. The lawmaker
claimed that the imperial flag was much more appropriate at
current historical stage marked by many important events, such as
Crimea’s accession into the Russian Federation, the start of the
Russia-led economic bloc the Customs Union, and the rise of
patriotism in general.

Degtyaryov also notedthat when the Russian state was using the
old flag its territory increased greatly and included Alaska, the
Caucasus, Crimea, Eastern Prussia, Poland, the Baltic States,
several Central Asian states and Finland.

The suggestion met strong opposition from lawmakers and the
community the moment it appeared. MPs said that the populace was
content with the existing flag and the costly change was simply
unnecessary. The head of Russia’s Monarchist Party, Anton Bakov,
noted in press comments that the move was discrediting the very
idea of monarchy.

How can Russia use the Romanov dynasty flag before the
descendants of the emperors return to their homeland? The tsars
got the Kremlin stolen from them, and the Hermitage Palace. Now
the LDPR deputy wants to steal their flag
,” Bakov told

The black, yellow and white flag was approved as a national
symbol by Emperor Alexander II in 1858 and remained as such till
1896. According to the official explanation the flag borrowed the
colors from the imperial coat of arms – the Byzantium eagle was
black, the Byzantium banner was gold, and the horse of St.
George, also pictured on the Moscow City emblem, was white.
However, the black, yellow and white scheme was also used by
German Kaiser of the same period, and back then Russia allied
with Prussia and other German states.

Various combinations of the imperial standard and the
white-blue-red tricolor were used between the 1896 and 1917.

August 24, 1991

Modern Russia approved the white, blue and red tricolor in 1991.
It was the flag used by supporters of Boris Yeltsin during the
1991 coup attempt and was modeled on the flag of the Russian
Republic – the state that existed between the Tsar’s abdication
in February 1917 and the October Revolution. The official
explanation of the tricolor colors was the claim that it
symbolizes the principles of Russian statehood.

These days the imperial standard is used only by fringe Russian
nationalists who blame Yeltsin and his pro-Western policies for
most of Russia’s present-day problems.

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