Saturday, May 7, 2022

Calls to Change the Russian Flag Don’t Reflect a Real Change in Russian Thinking, Shtepa Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 26 – Putin’s war in Ukraine has sparked “a deep crisis in Russian self-consciousness,” Vadim Shtepa says, with some even rejecting Russian culture as such and many more supporting calls to replace the current Russian tri-color flag with one featuring blue and white colors.

            But the promotion of such a new flag now, the editor of the Tallinn-based Regon.Expert portal says, in many respects represents an effort to retain the worldview of a single Russian state centered on and run from Moscow rather than a true turning away from the centralization, repression and aggression of the Putin regime.

            As such, it represents both a continuation of the idea that the only thing needed for Russia to progress is the replacement of a “bad” tsar with a “good” one and thus puts “the cart before the  horse” as far as the country is concerned (  reposted at

            Up to now, the use of the new blue and white Russian flag has been limited to émigré circles. Using it in Russia is dangerous. But the current situation in which the opponents and supporters of the Russian empire use the same flag really does create something symbolically absurd.

            But that absurdity is not ended by calling for a new flag because those who are behind this idea, primarily Moscow intellectuals now in emigration, appear to believe that they are changing something fundamental by changing the flag when in reality, they are approaching the whole issue in the same centralist way that the Kremlin is.

            It may be that in some future, the components of a successor federation or confederation will choose to adopt a new flag in common. But what is important is that they have the power to make that choice rather than have it imposed on them in advance. To do otherwise, Shtepa says, is re-enforce rather than undercut centralism and imperialism.

            The Russian opposition today gives lip service to federalism, he continues; but its leaders appear to understand that only as a certain willingness by the center to return more resources to the regions in order to hold the country in its current borders and to create a nation state based on “a single non-ethnic Russian nation.”

             But that is no more real federalism than what Putin is offering, and a new flag won’t do anything to change that reality, the Russian regionalist says.


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