Thursday, February 15, 2024

Moscow's Problems with Russian Republic Reflected in the Origins of the RSFSR Flag

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 10 – When the United Nations was formed and the Ukrainian and Belarusian SSRs in addition to the USSR became members, Moscow directed all the republics to come up with new flags so that they might be ready to take part in international conferences in the future.

            The Soviet government imposed strict limitations: all were to retain red as the basic color and the emblematic hammer and sickle and then add something which echoed the history of their titular nations. Ukraine and Belarus did so quickly; and by 1953, all the others had done so, except for the RSFSR.

            The Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR approved a version that inserted the red, white and blue of earlier Russian flags, but the USSR Supreme Soviet vetoed that because those colors had appeared on the flags of many of the anti-Bolshevik White movements during the Russian Civil War.

            There are also suspicions, the Russian 7 portal says, that the CPSU leadership was concerned that the flag would promote more Russian nationalist ideas, given that the Kremlin had just cracked down on the kind of Russian nationalism that was manifested in the Leningrad Affair (

            In any case, after their preferred flag was rejected by the Soviet government, the RSFSR leadership used the Soviet flag but with RSFSR written on it and only then came up with a flag in January 1954 close to those of the other republics except that the Russian flag had a vertical blue stripe rather than a horizontal one of various colors.

            Too much should not be made of this history, but it is instructive about how real politics about real and symbolic issues were conducted in the murky last years of Stalinism and in the first years after  his death. 

No comments:

Post a Comment