Russia Day is the national holiday of the Russian Federation, celebrated on June 12. It has been celebrated every year since 1992.
June 12th was originally named “Russian Independence Day” marking both the day when Russia declared its independence from the Soviet Union and the day when, one year later, Boris Yeltsin was elected the first president of the Russian Federation. The First Congress of People’s Deputies of the Russian Federation adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic on June 12, 1990. However, the name was changed to “Russia Day” in 2002 when it became clear that most Russians did not understand from whom they had declared independence. Russia, as they see it, is simply a third incarnation of a state that has always been and the Russian people have always been autonomous since the Mongols were defeated in the 16th century.
Russia Day, although it has only existed for 15 years, is an effective microcosm for Russia as whole. This is an occasion for many Russians to demonstrate national pride. People celebrate Russia’s economic and social achievements and pay tribute to famous Russians on June 12. They attend concerts and fireworks that take place in many cities throughout the country. Prominent Russian writers, scientists and humanitarian workers receive a National Award from the Russian president on this day. Russia is a country unashamed of its communist past, and proud of its achievements and creativity. It is a country in the midst of a religious revival and a country which sees itself as still in search of itself. For some, as youths or environmentalists, it is a day of activism, for others is only the opportunity to ask for a greater presence from the institutions. The Russian flag and a two-headed eagle, the state symbols of the Russian Federation, are the most common symbols of Russia Day.