symbols include the coat-of-arms, the national flag, and the state
anthem. The Russian coat-of-arms is a golden two-headed eagle on a
red shield, with the three crowns of Peter the Great above it. In
its talons, the eagle holds a scepter and an orb, and on its chest
it has a red shield representing St. George slaying a dragon with
double-headed eagle was the coat-of-arms of the Byzantine Empire. In
the 15th century the Russian tsar Ivan III adopted it after he
married Sophia, or Zoe, Palaeologa, the niece of Constantine XI, the
last Byzantine emperor.
Following the Bolshevik takeover in 1917, this emblem was
discarded and replaced by a hammer-and-sickle against the
background of a globe bathed in sunrays and framed in ears
of corn and red ribbons bearing the inscription (in the
languages of all constituent republics) “Proletarians of All
Countries, Unite!” and crowned with a five-pointed star. The
two-headed eagle was reinstated as the Russian coat-of-arms
on President Boris Yeltsin’s decree in 1993.
flag is rectangular with three white, blue, and red horizontal
stripes of the identical size. The Russian tricolor is almost 300
years old. Peter the Great introduced it in 1705 as the flag of the
Russian merchant fleet. It finally became the national flag in 1883
on the decree of Alexander III.
In the civil war
of 1918-1920, the Bolsheviks adopted the revolutionary red flag and
were known as the Reds, whereas their opponents - the Whites -
fought and lost under the imperial white, blue, and red tricolor.
The tricolor was resurrected as the national flag of Russia
following the failed August 1991 coup, mainly as a symbol of the
victory of the democratic forces of Russia over the conservatives in
the Soviet leadership who had launched the coup as the final, and
unsuccessful, attempt to reinstate centralist controls.
In 1993 the Patriotic Song written by the Russian
nineteenth-century composer Mikhail Glinka replaced the Soviet state
anthem on Yeltsin’s decree. However, in 2000 the tune of the old
Soviet state anthem (composed by A.V. Aleksandrov) was reinstated as
Russia’s official anthem on the initiative of the new President
Vladimir Putin. In the following year, the anthem’s new text,
written by one of the surviving co-authors of the text of the Soviet
anthem S.V. Mikhalkov, was approved by the parliament. The new
words, designed to appeal to the patriotic feelings of Russians, are
free from all traces of communist dogmas and even include a
reference to God.
As a result, Russia now has a seemingly incongruous combination of
state symbols: the classic fifteenth-century double-headed eagle of
the Muscovite tsars, the eighteenth-century westernized imperial
and the Soviet anthem with new words.