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Rebuilding Continuity


By the start of the twentieth century the Russian authorities themselves show readiness to appeal to positive Soviet values and to reestablish the disrupted historical continuity. The most telling example of the new attitude is the approval by the parliament, under Putin, of the seemingly incongruous concoction of state symbols. These include the coat-of-arms, the national flag, and the state anthem.  

Coat-of-arms of Muscovite Russia

Coat-of-arms of Imperial Russia

Coat of arms of the Russian Federation

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. The double-headed eagle was the coat-of-arms of the Byzantine Empire. In the fifteenth 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 Yeltsins decree in 1993.

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