Russia has been in the news lately, and will continue to be as its version of Independence Day is celebrated on June 12th this year. Russia Day, the national holiday of the Russian Federation, has been celebrated since 1992. The relatively young holiday at only 20 years old was established to celebrate when the First Congress of People’s Deputies of the Russian Federation adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (like the US’s Declaration of Independence, but with a fancier name) on June 12, 1990. The notion of a declaration came from the Democratic Russia movement of the time, in which advocates of evolutionary market reform & strong statehood, based on Russia’s national interests, started opposing the Communist monopoly on power. Additionally, by the late 1980s, Russian society had begun to doubt the Politburo’s ability (the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union) to carry out meaningful socio-economic reforms. Maybe the powers at be didn’t really have the best interest of the Russian peoples in mind after all. This seems to be the trend of such Independence or Declaration Days where the majority rises up and shuts down the dictatorship-style government.
Also naturally linked to Russia Day, the creation of the post of the President of the Russian Federation and the adoption of the new Russian Constitution to reflect the new political reality, along with the national flag, anthem and emblem of this new Russian Federation, were major landmarks in the merging of the Russian statehood. The country’s new name- the Russian Federation (aka- Russia)- was adopted on December 25, 1991, hence the short delay from the Declaration to the Russia Day celebration. The day when the declaration was adopted- June 12 – was proclaimed as national holiday by Supreme Soviet of Russia in 1992, and again proclaimed Russia’s national holiday by the Russian President’s decree of June 2, 1994, just in time to get the party started. Under the presidential decree of June 16, 1998, it was called the Day of Russia. In 2002, the new Labor Code gave official seal to this Day of Russia title, which I think sounds better than the now commonly used Russia Day, but whatever.
Russia Day (or Day of Russia, Den’ Rossii) is still celebrated with family fun, food & drink, dancing and various festivities. Concerts are held, fashions shows put on, and plenty of traditional Russian treats abound. A huge celebration takes place in Saint Petersburg and prominent Russian writers, scientists and humanitarian workers receive a National Award from the Russian president on Russia Day. Interestingly, the mother-Russians’ attitude towards this holiday is ambivalent. Many still see the adoption of the Declaration of state sovereignty rather than the Communist monopoly as a negative historic event for Russia, which accelerated dissolution of the Soviet Union. But it’s still young, and those who grew up in the older-world, Soviet Russia are still a strong presence in the population and like all things, a huge shift in government status takes time to adjust to and demonstrate thorough positive effects.