Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Three Flags Over Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 18 – On June 17, Vladimir Putin took part in a ceremony in St. Petersburg where the flags of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and the Russian Federation were simultaneously raised over a park in the Northern capital, an event that the authorities stressed the continuity of Russian history that the Kremlin leader has so actively promoted.

            Each of the flags was of the same size and raised on flagpoles rising 179.5 meters above the Gulf of Finland on a date important for each, organizers of the event who included Gazprom said (

            This year, the black-yellow-white flag of the Russian Empire marks its 165th anniversary as a symbol of Russian state power, the Soviet Red Banner became the official flag of the Soviet Union 100 years ago, and the blue-white-red flag used by the Russian Federation now was first established by Peter I.

            But not everyone shared the vision of Putin and the organizers of this event that it shows the continuity of Russian history. The editors of the Russian Orthodox nationalist portal Russkaya Liniya agreed that it was “a significant event;” but for them, its importance lay elsewhere.

            “To a large extent,” they wrote in their commentary on the event, the raising of the three flags together “has a positive character, despite the fact that in the city of St. Peter has again appeared the flag of the Soviet authorities” given that the current Russian government has retained so much that is Soviet  (

            But “the fact that the Russian authorities decided to raise in the city on the Neva the monarchist banner of the Russian Empire and also the tricolor of Emperor Peter the Great is very indicative” of some very important things that must not be forgotten in the commemoration of this action.

            “This ‘display of flags’ once again highlights the fact that the Soviet period represented only an insignificant period in Russian history while that of the Russian Empire spans centuries.” Because that is so, Russkaya Liniya says, getting rid of Soviet toponyms would seem to represent a necessary and major “step forward.”

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